Learn how to use the garden as your classroom in April.

In partnership with Field to Family and Backyard Abundance, Iowa City Parks and Recreation will host a school garden workshop, “Teaching the Next Generation: The Garden as Your Classroom” on Saturday, April 8, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center Outdoor Classroom, 220 S. Gilbert St. This class is open to teachers, school district staff, early care and education providers, garden volunteers and all who are interested in using gardening as an education tool in Johnson and neighboring counties. 

Presenters at this free workshop will share school district and community resources that support learning about the outdoor environment, showcase versatile designs for outdoor classrooms, demonstrate activities that support new science standards, and offer hands-on lessons in the garden for pre K-12 students.

Presenters include:

  • Kelly Hanson, Farm to Early Care Education Program Specialist with the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children, will share pre-K garden learning activities.
  • Jen Kardos, Co-Director Backyard Abundance, along with Jenni Mettemeyer, Shimek school garden leader, will demonstrate ways to use elementary science curriculum (FOSS) in the garden.
  • Michelle Kenyon, Field to Family Program Director and ICCSD Farm to School Coordinator, will cover general resources available to school gardeners and those creating and maintaining outdoor classroom space.
  • Elizabeth Maas, Restoration Ecologist, Kirkwood Community College, will demonstrate an activity following the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Breanna Shea, Outreach Coordinator and Tony Loeser, Water Resources Engineer from Iowa Flood Center will demonstrate a new community resource to teach about water quality.

“This event features a hands-on component that demonstrates how to teach current district science curriculum in the garden,” explains Jen Kardos, Co-Director of Backyard Abundance. “Being thoughtful in the design of our school gardens means they can be used as outdoor classrooms effectively without adding to a teacher’s workload.”

In addition to the activities listed, the Iowa Flood Center will demonstrate a new, interactive erosion table, highlighting how it can be used in teaching outdoor ecology.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation received a DNR REAP Conservation Education Program grant to partner with the Iowa Flood Center on new water quality educational classes, which will compliment the City's growing line of ecology programs.

To register for the garden workshop, visit the Iowa City Parks and Recreation registration website: bit.ly/2no59Cs

More information about this program is available at backyardabundance.org/.

Support for this event comes from the City of Iowa City and New Pioneer Food Co-op.


ICCSD Farm to School Chapter: The ICCSD Farm to School chapter, a program of Field to Family, is one of 27 Iowa Farm to School chapters throughout the state that is working to get kids thinking about where their food comes from and adding more local foods to school lunches. The program has three components: providing support for school gardens, sourcing local foods for school lunches and hosting education programs on the farm to table process called, Farmer Fairs, which are in-school field trips where students get to meet local farmers, learn from nutritionists and participate in a hands-on gardening workshop as well as eat locally harvested, lightly processed fresh seasonal foods. fieldtofamily.org/programs/farm-to-school/

Backyard Abundance is a nonprofit that helps people create beautiful, environmentally-beneficial landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat. backyardabundance.org/

Field to Family works to create a more local, healthy and sustainable agriculture in Johnson and surrounding counties through their programs: Farm to School, Local Food Finder, Farm Stands in Food Deserts and Food System Education. fieldtofamily.org/

Date of publication

Thursday, March 30, 2017