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Ohio 4-H School Garden Conference is Oct. 22
Ohio Ag Connection - 09/16/2021

A school garden can provide students access to a green space to relax and learn more about nature.

Research shows that school gardens can also support and encourage healthy eating as a key factor of childrens' physical well-being, which can aid their social and academic success.

That's just one of several reasons why Sue Hogan, an Ohio 4-H youth development educator for Ohio State University Extension, is coordinating the seventh annual Ohio School Garden Conference, whose theme is "Voices From the Field."

The conference is hosted by OSU Extension 4-H personnel. Ohio 4-H, the youth development arm of OSU Extension, offers 4-H programs to youth in all 88 of Ohio's counties. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The conference provides both a networking opportunity and a chance to learn from others who are actively engaged in school gardening and/or provide expertise and education to those who do, Hogan said.

"There are amazing school gardeners in Ohio, and we are working together to make school gardening a solid part of the culture in our state," she said. "By teaching adults to use gardening as a context for learning, we are providing skills for the youth who will benefit from participant knowledge to practice real-world science, among other topics." "In fact, most seasoned school gardeners agree that almost any subject and life lesson can be taught in a garden and may also lead to workforce development."

The conference is Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on the Columbus campus. The conference is open to teachers, educational administrators, after-school staff, government employees, nonprofit personnel, interested community members, and others who want to start, maintain, or support a school garden, Hogan said.

Registration is $55, which includes a boxed breakfast and lunch and all materials. Online registration is at go.osu.edu/sgc2021. The deadline to register is Oct. 15, and registration fees cannot be refunded after that time.

The keynote speaker for the conference will be Bruce McPheron, professor of entomology and dean's chair of CFAES International Programs. Session topics include the following, among others:

- School garden stories from teachers to administrators

- School gardening and autism

- Season extension

- Herbal gardens

- Plant diseases

- Pollinators

- Farm-to-school

- How to start a school garden

- French immersion garden during a pandemic

As America's largest youth development organization, Ohio 4-H, which served 171,983 students in 4-H clubs in all Ohio counties last year, emphasizes leadership and citizenship skills. Ohio youth, ages 5--19, participate in 4-H through community clubs, camps, schools, and short-term experiences.

For more information on the conference, contact Hogan at hogan.239@osu.edu.


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