When I learned that working with kids was part of the garden guide training program at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I was less than enthusiastic. I even asked the director of our training program if I could skip that part. She firmly but politely said, “No, you’ll learn a lot even if you end up not working with the kids after you graduate.”
Well, you can probably tell what’s coming and am I ever surprised. I LOVE WORKING WITH THE KIDS. When those sweet little 5-year-olds come marching into the classroom walking hand-in-hand, my heart melts. After they take off of their coats and settle in, all a little shy and wide-eyed, the kids help “build” a tree, learning the names of the parts along the way.
Then we take them across the hall to the education greenhouse where we’ve set up the tables with plants for them to touch and sniff. Each “place setting” has its own empty pot and label.
In advance, we’ve separated the seedlings that they are going to “pot up.” Here are some basil seedlings since the subject at hand was Plants You Eat.
The kids scoop up dirt from a big bin into their pots, make a hole in the center, and plop their seedlings in the middle. They write the name of the plant on the label and tuck it down into the soil. Then we go over the care and feeding of their new plants and tell them that they are now officially gardeners. We help them carefully put their precious little seedlings into paper bags to take home. Then we go on a short tour of the garden.
For many of the kids, it’s probably their first time seeing so much greenery in one place. If only a few of them develop a love of plants as a result of this visit, the world will be greener as a result.