Garden Ambassadors = Girl Power

Every year I have a different number and mix of 5th grade Garden Ambassadors.  This year, I’m thrilled to have 10 amazing girls.


A new feature in the program this year is the “Headquarters” board in the garden room. The girls love checking the board….


A few snippets from one of the outstanding Garden Ambassador applications:  (You know who you are!)

I would like to serve as a Garden Ambassador because when I was little I looked up to the garden ambassadors.  I would like that to happen to me.

I think a garden ambassador should have the ability to be a school representative.  A garden ambassador should be a good public speaker. They should also be willing to give up their extra time for the garden.  I think they should be focused, determined, mature, hardworking, trustworthy.  They should be respectful, responsible and compassionate.

I would also like to be a garden ambassador because it will give me an opportunity to interact with people.  I can also help the garden.  Being a garden ambassador is something to be proud of.

I know being a garden ambassador will help me be a better public speaker.  I will also gain more self-confidence. I will gain more knowledge of the scientific world and the garden.  It could make a remarkable impact upon my life.

To learn more about our Garden Ambassador program, look here or here or here.

Re-teaching is good learning

My son is taking a drawing class with two other students at the newly opened Studio Samadhi in Wynola—a wonderful new “center for the arts” in our community.  IMG_2833 One day last month the kids drew little cartoon birds, and it was a hit.  One of the students, who happens to be a Garden Ambassador, said, “We should do this again in the garden!”  I am always looking for realistic student-generated garden ideas for them to run with, so I asked each student to invite a friend to lunch so that they could re-teach the lesson.  It was a cold and windy day, so we ate and drew in Pathways.  The kids were excellent teachers. IMG_2654 IMG_2653 IMG_2647 All of the drawings were then pinned on our garden bulletin board for all to enjoy! IMG_2830 IMG_2831

Snip! goes one more ribbon

On Wednesday, October 17th we officially welcomed the James Hubbell Gate into our garden.  Back-to-back with this celebration was a garden tour given to a group of people attending the No Excuses University conference in San Diego.  Garden Ambassadors gave tours for a half an hour, and then we kicked off the ceremony.

Here’s me reviewing last minute tour details with the ambassadors:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

The gate is tied up with a ribbon.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

Just a taste of Rita’s always-remarkable catering:

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

Show time!  Garden Ambassadors do their thing, informing the guests about the section of the garden at which they are stationed.

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

This ambassador is standing behind a display of student photography detailing the creation of the gate.

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

The entomology club talks to guests!

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

A student plays fiddle for guests who are being seated, just as he promised in his application:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Sixth grade students read poetry written about the gate:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

I greet the crowd and give a speech, explaining “… this is a story of many things: of dreams turned into reality, the making of new friendships, the power of imagination to reshape reality, the generosity of our community to the benefit of children and the doorway to new chapters.”

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

James speaks!

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

L to R: Susi Jones (Executive Director of Pathways), Kevin Ogden (Julian Elementary Principal and Superintendent), Ann and James Hubbell, me, John Wheelock (artistic colleague of James who worked on gate), Mike Gallo (who established the Pamela Gallo fund at the United Methodist Church which funded the gate) and Dawn King (pastor at Julian Community United Methodist Church.)

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay

Snip! goes the ribbon.

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay

The children walk through, as they will be doing for decades to come!

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay

Wanted: new crop of Garden Ambassadors

At the beginning of the school year, I visit the fifth grade class, give a pitch for Garden Ambassadors and pass out applications.  This week I conduct interviews.  The returning (sixth grade) senior garden ambassadors have already been chosen, and today two of them spent part of their lunch to help me water and harvest for tomorrow’s lesson.

The application asks three questions.  Naturally all of the students wrote about having good character, demonstrating leadership qualities and being interested in all aspects of gardening.  Here’s a few of my favorite lines from this year’s application.

What do you think are good qualities for a Garden Ambassador to have?

Good qualities for a Garden Ambassador are respect, motivation, and an open heart.

I think some good qualities for a Garden Ambassador to have are being willing to get their hands dirty.

Knowing how to decipher weeds from produce!

I think good qualities to have are a good memory and a helpful soul.

Good listening and you can’t mess around! When you’re talking to a guest, don’t mumble and talk clearly.  Last year I created the Green Team and really enjoyed being a leader!

Why would you like to serve as a Garden Ambassador?

Because I think our garden is beautiful and I want to be a part of it!

This would teach me how to plant my own garden.  It would make me so happy if I were chosen!

I am interested in different plant species and how wonderful they look and what they do for our ecosystem.

I remember seeing the Senior Garden Ambassadors and saying I want to do that, and now look, I might!

I’d like to serve as a garden ambassador because I believe we don’t grow the garden, it grows us.   (I’d also love to play my violin in the garden to welcome special guests.)

I see it as an art form.  A blank canvas waiting to be painted.

I want to do it to inspire the younger kids to become Garden Ambassadors. 

What do you think you could learn from serving as a Garden Ambassador?

I could learn how to talk to the public or give a speech without being shy or nervous.

And finally, an addendum to one of the applications (I could clean out the gazebo if you were having guests):

Monday morning garden report

Two years ago I started a program called Garden Ambassadors.  Fifth grade and sixth grade students apply at the beginning of the school year, with a written application and interview, to be garden representatives.  All year long they receive special training from me as they assume certain leadership responsibilities related to the school garden.

One of their jobs is giving the “Monday Morning Garden Report.” Every Monday morning one of our principals welcomes children back to school on the school-wide intercom and goes over relevant information for the week.  Then the garden ambassador takes the mic (phone):

Here is this week’s report:

Good morning!  My name is Ethan, and I am a sixth grade garden ambassador.

Spring has come to the garden.  The table has a fresh coat of stain, the tulips are blooming and new plantings are going in.  In the habitat garden, there is newly planted lavender, monkey flower, butterfly weed and germander—all plants that attract butterflies.  Along the riverbed are also three new, native plants:  deer grass, mountain savory and “blue pozo” sage.  You might also notice the wildflowers are starting to come up in Mrs. Dawson’s bed too.  Finally, some strawberries were transplanted to the left of the pergola.

Thank you for observing the “caution tape” at the far end of the garden.  This space is being readied for a beautiful gate being created by the world-renowned artist James Hubbell. 

That’s all for now!  See you in the garden!