Assessing a garden-based curriculum for elementary youth in Iowa
The interest and use of gardens as educational tools for youth has increased in recent decades. The positive connection found between children and horticulture has prompted the development of garden-based curricula for use in schools. Iowa State University Extension developed the Growing in the Garden (GITG) curriculum designed for use in K-3 classrooms. This study examined what impact the GITG curriculum had on the interest and awareness of first graders in the areas of science, nutrition, and environmental awareness. Impact was assessed by a parental survey asking for perceptions of their child's interest and awareness after experiencing three lessons from the GITG curriculum. The sample consisted of 78 parents of first grade students in 4 classrooms in Iowa. Results indicate that a majority of parents completing the survey perceived a positive change in the awareness and interest of their children in the areas of science and environmental awareness. Positive increases in nutritional awareness and interest were perceived by some parents, though not enough to constitute a statistical majority. Factors such as socio-economic status, ethnicity, and gender did not greatly influence the outcomes.