Since 2016, the URI Cooperative Extension School Garden Initiative (SGI) seeks to harness children’s enthusiasm for the natural world, foster environmental awareness, ecological literacy and wellness, and bolster students’ understanding of nutrition and food access through outdoor engagement and applied learning in a “living laboratory” – the school garden. URI Extension partners with schools that have or desire a school garden to serve as a platform for applied learning of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) concepts. Through K-12 teacher and student engagement in experiential, standards-based learning in the garden and classroom, learning is maximized. URI Extension staff assist in the development of school-tailored, infused curriculum with memorable hands-on investigation, and teacher training to increase comfort levels with garden-based education.
A team of School Garden Mentors (SGMs) connect each SGI school to the resources and services of the University of Rhode Island. SGMs are certified URI Master Gardeners who have completed additional school garden training and passed state background checks. They serve as resources, advocates and educators to help schools achieve their gardening goals. SGMs are supported by URI CoopExt staff who provide training, design consultation and ongoing assistance as well as a menu of fee-for-service options.
Are you an administrator or teacher with an interest in school gardening? Please contact URI Cooperative Extension to join us in growing the initiative in RI schools!