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Garden Coaches

The nice weather is bringing opportunities to help school students learn about gardening

March 12, 2021

Spring is almost here and we can’t wait to get out in our gardens. The nicer weather is also bringing some opportunities to help school students learn about and participate in the joys of having a garden. Kirsten Saylor, the School Gardening Specialist for the St. Paul Public Schools, is inviting Master Gardener volunteers to sign on as Garden Coaches for individual classes.

This is a pilot program so there will be some learning as we go for everybody, but it should be an interesting and fun activity.

There will be a Sign-up Genius request coming soon that will give you a chance to choose a school and grade level with which you would like to work. On March 24, Kirsten will facilitate an orientation via Zoom to give you a better idea of the variety of ways in which a coach might assist the class, depending on what the teacher with whom you are partnered needs and you are comfortable with. Please note, there will be no in-person contact with teachers or students unless approved by all parties and organizations involved.

Here are some examples of possible collaboration:

  • Preparation of a pop-up garden bed so it is ready to plant

  • Online meetings with the class to talk about what they would like to plant and how to do it

  • Mini-lessons on topics of interest, such as herbs or garden pests

  • Sharing with the class through photos and notes

  • One-on-one with the teacher to answer questions and advise

Following the orientation, you will contact your matched teacher by April 1. The district will then go on spring break, so gardening will begin the week of April 11 and continue until mid-June. There will be optional weekly meetings for coaches to connect and get any needed assistance.

You probably have lots of questions, and this is an evolving program. But we hope to have at least a dozen MGs involved, and we’re good at trying new things, right? You may call Susan Cathey or Ed Shinbach, and we’ll try to address your concerns. We will also be presenting this information at our March 16 RCMG meeting.

Susan Cathey

Youth Projects Co-coordinator

Ed Shinbach

Youth Projects Co-coordinator

School-based projects range from providing telephone advice to implementing a complete gardening curriculum. Master Gardener volunteers may work directly with students to stratify seeds, plant them, transplant the seedlings, and finally plant them in a school garden or watershed district project, or they may consult with teachers and provide feedback or advice.


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