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Guest Post: Washington Youth Garden

The Washington Youth Garden uses the garden cycle as a tool to enrich science learning, inspire environmental stewardship and cultivate healthy food choices in youth and families. Their blog chronicles nature adventures at the Garden, and a recent post by Emily Roberts, the 2013 Garden Education Assistant, shares her experience during her first week on the job through pictures. Find the original post and read more online here!

Hello there! My name is Emily and I’m the 2013 Garden Education Assistant at the Washington Youth Garden (WYG). Founded in 1971, the WYG (located at the U.S. National Arboretum) provides a unique, year-round environmental science and food education program for D.C. youth and their families. Using the garden and Arboretum as a living classroom, our programs teach participants to explore their relationships with food and the natural world.

This season I’ll be working with the other WYG staff to make SPROUT field trips run smoothly and plants grow strong. SPROUT stands for Science Program Reaching OUT, and is our widest-reaching program which invites youth and educators from all over the Washington metro area to visit to our demonstration garden site at the Arboretum. The program is offered three days a week (Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays) from April through October.

I’m no stranger to the garden, though – I’ve been volunteering nearly every Saturday morning during the growing season for the last three years. You should come volunteer with us too!

Here are a few photos I took during my first week. I hope you enjoy them, and hope to see you soon out at the garden.

Tuesday, April 30th was a much-needed rain day. I caught this globe allium hanging onto some water droplets.

On Wednesday, May 1st in the afternoon we were visited by some 5th and 6th graders from Washington Middle School and went through a number of Garden Basics - including a stop to taste some delicious sorrel.

In the morning on Thursday, May 2nd, first graders from Two Rivers School visited to go on what they called a “Pollinators Expedition!” As a part of our Pollination curriculum, we explored the butterfly garden, played the pollinator game, and checked out these awesome pollinator displays.

Meanwhile, soaking up all that rain from Tuesday, our broccoli florets silently began to form.

Visitors are welcome anytime the National Arboretum is open, Friday through Monday 8am to 5pm. Families are also invited to join in a Saturday morning Family Garden Day – you can learn more on our website.

Single Ray

A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature. (February 1983)

The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes. (July 1934)

Serbian-American physicist Nikola Tesla, born today in 1856

Feature of the Month: E-Links

Welcome to mid-November! Just one week ago today, we introduced you to our new class of Catalogue nonprofits. So now, we’d like to show how you can learn even more about them online.

First, head to the “Our Nonprofits” section of the Catalogue homepage and click on any of the five categories. Let’s go with “Nature.” From there, let’s get to know one of our new organizations: Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment. And if you scroll down on ACE’s page, you will see this menu:






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In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, Greater Washington! Non-profits news to come …

DC Collaborative Congratulates Mayor’s Arts Awardees — Many Catalogue cheers to the 2011 winners, who were announced last week at the Kennedy Center! A winner in 2007 for Innovation in the Arts, the Capital Fringe took home this year’s award for Excellence in Service to the Arts. Now in its 32nd year, Dance Place received a well-deserved nod for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education. Congratulations!

Low Health Literacy May Have Deadly ConsequencesWebMD Health News reported yesterday that, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, “nearly one in five people with heart failure have low health literacy, making them more than twice as likely to die as a result of their condition … even after adjusting for other risk factors, such as age, heart pumping ability, and coexisting illnesses.” (Learn more about Catalogue’s Health non-profits, who are working to improve access to care and education) Continue reading

In the News … (Part 2)

Good morning, DC region! We dedicated yesterday to the proposed federal budget; so today, we’re featuring some choice non-budget non-profit news items! As always, do let us know if you have anything to share.

It’s Not Candid Camera, It’s Random Culture — We’re just a touch late on sharing this NY Times article, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Funded by a “major initiative undertaken by the Knight Arts Program,” over 160 arts organizations have performed pop-up “random acts of culture” in their local communities. Imagine shopping for shoes and suddenly, an opera company appears to serenade you and the entire shoe-browsing crowd. The concept is simple, but really moving — and a great reminder of how live performance can bring anyone and everyone together. Have you tried this?

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7 Questions – Sarah Stankorb (National Park Trust)

Following a great 3-day weekend … we bring you an even greater 7 Questions with Sarah Stankorb, Education and Communications Director of the National Park Trust, which develops and safeguards critical parklands for generations to come. Check out her thoughts on bison, blogs, and being both a thinker and a doer:

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

Launching the Where’s Buddy Bison Been? program year has been wonderful. As we helped prepare for another year with the program, we heard again and again that the program allowed teachers find ways to bring their curriculum to life and make it more relevant to their students. Teachers are making environmental videos with their students, having kids learn writing and perspective — some by, looking at the environment from a bison’s perspective. One teacher taught younger students about the earth’s climates and ecosystems by “adapting” their Buddy Bison for survival in a variety of habitats. We provide the tools and our Buddy Bison teachers are thrilled to have a fun way to prompt creative lessons and, in turn, the kids feel deeply connected to what has turned into a growing grassroots movement.

2. What else are you up to?

In October we have SIX outdoor experiences planned for our Buddy Bison students. For what might be called a small but mighty staff, this is a huge undertaking, but also the sort of thing that motivated many of us to join the nonprofit community in the first place. We’ll be outdoors (with Buddy Bison, our education mascot), working with park staff and teachers to get kids exploring the environment, learning and, we hope, growing into tomorrow’s land stewards. This means a mounted parks police officer (and her horse Steely Dan!) at two schools, “sister” Buddy Bison schools meeting to hike a Maryland state park, third and fourth graders at the amazing Patxuent Research Refuge, bringing on a new school in the Lake Tahoe area for a trip to the Lake and service learning, and right in the middle of it all, our nation’s first Fossil Day on the National Mall.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

Toward the middle of my senior year in college, I was weighing grad school vs. taking an AmeriCorps position. I sat down with one of my favorite professors and he asked me a simple question, “Are you a thinker or are you a doer?” For years I battled with my answer, never quite satisfied that it had to be one or the other. I feel that working in education through a nonprofit organization like National Park Trust allows me to roll up my sleeves and work toward my very carefully considered positions about the environment and everyone’s right to public goods like clean, open park land. I get to be a thoughtful doer.

4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?

Tanya Simpson. While keeping busy in a VP role at a national nonprofit, she also maintains a blog to lift up younger nonprofit professionals and keep all of us thinking about what goals should be motivating us in this work. Then, she launched MAJOR Impact on her own to make workforce development all of our business. Between Resume Rescue month and similar initiatives, she’s been helping those who are out of work gain confidence and get back on their feet. On the flip side, for volunteers, she’s been reminding us that we can’t just wait for the government to heal the economy. We all have a stake and all have the ability, as she says, to make a major impact. Often in the nonprofit world, I’ve run into people bubbling over with ideas, but it’s rare to know someone with the drive to carefully plan and implement them, and do it all so well professionally and all on her own.

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

Powering down. In the nonprofit community there is always so much to do and the field is full of Jill- and Jack-of-all-Trades who wear so many different hats to get the job done. In that environment, it is easy to stay in zoom mode, and bounce from one project to the next. Sometimes, it’s a struggle to hit the pause button and stop for a moment to look at everything you’ve accomplished; but it’s such an important thing to do.

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in education?

Teach. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hop right into your own classroom. I started out as a classroom assistant at a public charter school on Chicago’s Southside and absorbed quite a bit about the juggle to keep kids on grade level (or get them to grade level), maintain classroom decorum and help kids navigate all of the baggage that follows them to school. Education is not something that only happens in a traditional classroom, and some of my most meaningful experiences teaching occurred as an instructor for adult community college students or counseling at summer camps.

7. What’s next? (Interpret however you see fit)

It?s an exciting time for me. Between juggling the wonderful work we do at NPT, I am also a freelance writer. I’m in the rare position where my work fulfills and gives me the energy to continue pursuing my own creative endeavors.

EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?

Iris Murdoch, Jack Black, and David Sedaris.