Project Green Reach (PGR) is a part of the Children's Gardening Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), a public garden regarded as a model program for garden-based youth education. PGR utilizes the indoor classroom and outdoor laboratory to engage K-8 students and teachers at Brooklyn's Title I schools in informal science learning. Every year, PGR instructors accept a group of students into the summer program where they work in teams on garden projects at BBG. Students who participate in this program often come from challenging home and school environments. Anecdotal evidence reveals that after participating in the summer program, these students quickly develop improved confidence and academic skills, evolving into scientists and gardeners. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a gardening program on inner city youth and to document the PGR summer program as a potential model for informal science youth education in the public garden forum. Field observations of PGR summer program participants and program document collection were conducted during the 2004 Summer Program. This was followed by interviews of adult PGR Summer Program alumni and former staff who discussed their experiences while participating in the program and described the meaning of PGR in their lives. Preliminary results have revealed the positive impact PGR has had on participants' lives, indicating that PGR affected their childhood development, relationships with family members and friends, and their views on BBG, gardening, and science. Findings from the in-depth analysis of the interviews, observations and document review will be presented.
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