Promoting the love of gardening and the environment is a primary mission of the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation (WGCF). Educating the gardeners of tomorrow is especially important to carry on work we do today. The WGCF and National Garden Clubs, Inc (NGC) provide many education opportunities for our youth. Members work with 4-H groups, boys and girls clubs, Scouts, summer camps, school gardens, environmental centers and youth garden clubs. Activities include Project Marigold in the Indianhead District that provides students with soil, pots and marigold seeds. The kids enjoy watching the seeds grow into bright colored flowers within a short timeframe. Many club members, across the state, work with school gardens providing both education and nutrition. Youth garden clubs and Scouts perform community projects including several Eagle Scout projects at the WGCF sponsored Generations Park – the first public park in Sun Prairie Township.
National Garden Clubs published a book The Frightened Frog to teach elementary age kids about the impact of the environment on amphibians. Copies of this book are available for purchase through the NGC website. Lesson plans and activities to accompany the book are available for no charge.
National Garden Clubs sponsors many youth related contests. Entries are first judged within the state and then forwarded on to NGC Central Region and to NGC for consideration. The current contests include the following.
- Poetry – Theme “Croaking Leaping Frogs” – grades K-9, encouraging creative thought through poetry, “http://www.gardenclub.org/youth/youth-contests/poetry-contest.aspx”
- Essay – Theme “Don’t Let Frogs Croak” – grades 9 – 12, national winner receives $1000 scholarship, “http://www.gardenclub.org/youth/youth-contests/high-school-essay-contest.aspx”
- Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Posters – grades 1 – 5, in conjunction with the United States Forest Service and United States Department of Agriculture, posters encouraging the “prevention of forest fires” with Smokey Bear or “lending a hand to care for the land” with Woodsy Owl. “http://www.gardenclub.org/youth/youth-contests/smokey-bear-poster-contest.aspx”
- Sculpture – grades 4 – 8, encourage youth to keep planet green – sculptures of recycled, reused, reduced materials “http://www.gardenclub.org/youth/youth-contests/youth-sculpture-contest.aspx”
The WGCF, currently, sponsors two Youth Garden Clubs: Little Acres Garden Club sponsored by Western Acres Garden Club in Milwaukee and Young Sprouts Garden Club sponsored by Lake Wissota Garden Club in Chippewa Falls. For more information on WGCF Youth Activities, contact Pat Ritchie, Youth Chair.
The Hill and Dale Garden Club of Elroy partnered with Royall School District, as a part of the school’s PEP Grant program. Club members assist at Health Fairs and with gardening classes. In the spring and fall, classes are held after-school one day a week for four weeks, and during summer school, students were able to elect to participate in gardening classes for 16 one-hour sessions. During these classes, students, their teacher and Garden Club members worked at preparing the garden, planning and planting the garden, and tending the garden. Students have been excited to watch the growth of their garden, as well as enjoy the harvesting and sharing of garden produce.
The Wisconsin School Garden Initiative (WSGI) has great information and resources for garden club members, teachers and anyone interested in school gardens within their community. “http://www.communitygroundworks.org/what-we-do/wsgi” or “https://www.pinterest.com/wsgi/”