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  • Author or Editor: Kristi S. Lekies x
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This article discusses Greener Voices, a 3-year extension-research integration project intended to enhance the participation of children and youth in school- and community-based gardening settings and presents findings from a study of adult leaders’ perceptions about the participation of children and youth at their sites. The project included six sites in New York and Pennsylvania consisting of rural, suburban, and urban settings; children at those sites ranged in age between 3 and 18 years. Over a 2-year period, as part of the extension activity, sites were provided with consultation and written materials, a web site, and opportunities to attend a related workshop and conference. Interviews with adult leaders indicated moderate to high levels of participation at most of the sites, variation by age of participants and stage of project, the usefulness of a ladder of children's participation in raising awareness, barriers to participation, attitudinal and behavior changes, and positive impacts on the youth. Ongoing efforts are needed to assist sites/leaders, including strategies to expand thinking about the capabilities of children and youth, help children and youth adjust to new roles, and identity ways for younger children to increase their participation.

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This paper discusses a unique garden and youth-focused event in which a group of 4-H youth engaged in a “children's garden consultants” program. Over a 3-day period, seven teenaged youth were given the opportunity to actively research children's garden design and educational programming, and then present recommendations to an adult audience of children's garden experts and youth development specialists. Surveys, observations, and discussions with youth, adults in attendance, and program organizers indicated the event was highly valuable and worth repeating. It provided a new learning opportunity for youth, and it also gave adults new perspectives on gardens. The youth's ideas for improving children's gardens and suggestions for future programming are presented as well.

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