Crazy hats and garden networking

I just returned from the BOOST conference in Palm Springs (BOOST is “best out-of-school time”–focusing on anything youth-related that takes place out of the classroom, such as afterschool programs.)  At the first night’s reception, attendees were asked to wear a crazy hat. I decided to represent for school gardens with this entry, which earned me the “most creative” award.  In addition to showing up for the fun, I also hoped to network with other folks interested in school gardens.  And that would have worked… if I could have turned my head more than a half inch to talk to anyone or look down to grab a business card out of my purse, which I naturally couldn’t do while balancing this massive floral arrangment gathered from my garden that morning.

Check out my trophy!

Unfortunately, there was no formal content over the three days on school gardens, which is odd given both its burgeoning popularity and the fact that a lot of school garden activity happens during “out-of-school time.”

Nonetheless, I was inspired about youth development in general and the child/nature connection specifically.  (I watched Mother Nature’s Child—a good film even if you’re already on board with “no child left inside.”)  And Sir Ken Robinson was as smart, funny and inspiring as he is in his animated TED talks.  Mostly, I left feeling affirmed in the work of school gardens and all of its possibilities for encouraging creativity, teaching experientially, and providing meaningful outlets for mentorship and leadership.