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A.W. Fleener, C.W. Robinson, J.D. Williams and M. Kraska

Children's gardens have recently been shown to increase life skills. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects that gardening/plant activities from the Junior Master Gardener curriculum, Literature in the Garden, have on children's life skills. The life skills examined were leadership, teamwork, self-understanding, decision-making skills, and communication skills. About 130 third-grade students from a Lee County, AL, school participated in the study. Students were equally divided into control and experimental groups, and each student was given the youth life skills inventory (YLSI) as a pre- and posttest. The experimental group participated in eight gardening/plant activities after the pretest, whereas the control group did not complete the activities. No significant differences were found between pretests and posttests for teamwork, self-understanding, decision making, communication, and overall life skills. Significant decreases from pretest to posttest were found on leadership skills for the experimental group. Several trends were observed with students who read more for fun, read more each week, and read more garden books generally increasing in life skills.