Cultivating School Gardens conference scheduled for July 20 |

The Cultivating School Gardens conference will be held online on July 20. The conference is designed to teach participants tools, techniques and new ideas for using gardening and natural learning environments in classrooms and gardens.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service event will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $30 and pre-registration is required at

The conference will be held on the Microsoft Teams meeting platform. Once registered, a link to register will be emailed to you several days before the event.

This event will provide seven hours of Texas Education Agency-recognized continuing professional education hours.

“We are very excited about this school garden conference, which brings together the basics of gardening, including where and what to plant, with the inner workings of funding, curriculum and other resources,” said Ginger Easton Smith, AgriLife Agriculture Extension and Natural Resources Officer for Aransas County.

The event is organized and facilitated by a multi-county panel of AgriLife Extension agents and specialists. The virtual workshop will provide educators with the information needed to start a youth or school garden. It will cover preparation, support, planting and care, and success stories.

“It’s being showcased virtually to make it available statewide because there’s such interest in gardening,” she said.

At the end of the conference, door prizes will be awarded and attendees will learn how to access time-limited videos.

The conference will begin with an overview of the day’s event as well as key information attendees will need to know.

The keynote speaker is Charlie Hall, Ph.D., Professor and Ellison Chair at the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences, Bryan-College Station. He will present “The benefits of plants for the education and well-being of young people”.

It will cover the growing mountain of research, which continues to document the specific benefits of a connection to plants and nature for young people’s learning and testing success, emotional and mental health, social life skills and Moreover.

The first part will cover the preparation, installation, maintenance, planting and harvesting of the garden. The second track explores successful volunteers, funding, partnerships, programs and school gardens.

The first track is “Hands in the Dirt: Garden How-To”. The topics and speakers are as follows:

  • Location and Design Options – William Isbell, Harris County Master Gardener.
  • Make it grow! Soil, seeds and plants — Skip Richter, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Brazos County.
  • Vegetables for Fall and Spring Gardens – Smith.
  • Just Add Water: Irrigation Considerations — Boone Holladay, AgriLife Extension Horticulturist, Fort Bend County.
  • The Good Guys in the Garden: Knowing and Attracting Beneficial Insects – Paul Winski, Horticulturist AgriLife Extension, Harris County.
  • Planning a Well-Kept Garden — Stephen Brueggerhoff, AgriLife Extension Horticulturist, Galveston County.
  • The focus of Track 2 is “Administration and Support: Funding, Resource Development and Curriculum”. The topics and speakers are as follows:
  • Building a Support Team: Partners and Partnerships – Brandi Keller, AgriLife Extension Horticulturist, Harris County.
  • Managing students in the garden – Martha McLeod, science teacher at Fulton Learning Center, Aransas County.
  • Strategies for Financing Your Garden — Randy Seagraves, AgriLife Extension Horticulture Specialist, Bryan-College Station.
  • STEM and Literature in the Garden – Lisa Whittlesey, AgriLife Extension Program Specialist and Junior Master Gardener Program International Coordinator, Bryan-College Station.
  • School Garden Success Stories — Garden tours of several school gardens with speakers discussing their garden success stories and how they overcame challenges.
  • Health and Wellness: The Nutrition Connection — speakers will include Caren Walton, AgriLife Extension horticultural program specialist, and Learn, Grow, Eat and Go! program team members.

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