Cornell Garden-Based Learning Collaborates with American Horticultural Society to “Sow the Seeds of Success” through Relevant and Accessible Online Resources

Date: 

2016

Summary: 

As educators struggle to balance competing demands on time, they continue to voice a need for outstanding program planning resources that are relevant and readily available. Many frequently speak to the importance of an outdated publication from the early 90s which had considerable content value, but until recently existed as an obsolete PDF and which was in need of updating. Our program partnered with American Horticultural Society to glean the valuable content of “Sowing the Seeds of Success,’ strengthen it with exercises and tools aimed at solid program development, and integrate it into all our professional development offerings, including a new leadership certificate, and ongoing workshops, to ensure that educators have the best online access to program development resources for garden-based education.

Issue: 

Gardening is now a recognized avenue for understanding and ultimately helping to alleviate such wicked problems as food insecurity, climate change, obesity, and the over-engagement with technology. A focus on garden-based education continues to be pursued by educators, volunteers, and a host of community organizations and agencies; within Cooperative Extension, garden programs are growing at a seemingly exponential rate, which is exciting. And yet, we know that “gardening” is just one part of garden education. As educators struggle to balance competing demands on time, they continue to voice a need for outstanding program planning resources that are relevant and readily available. Many speak to the value of an outdated publication from the early 90s, “Sowing the Seeds of Success,” which had considerable value, but existed as an obsolete PDF. There was tremendous potential for gleaning the valuable content, and strengthening it with exercises and tools aimed at solid program development, as well as to integrate a new and improved resource into all our programming efforts.

Response: 

We pursued a relationship with American Horticultural Society (AHS), given that they lacked the same resources. Beginning in August 2016, Fiona Doherty, educator enrichment specialist for Cornell Garden-Based Learning (CGBL), created a plan to parse “Sowing the Seeds of Success” into clear, web-friendly header sections and to integrate the resource with other signature projects, to serve as an overarching exemplary program planning tool for both AHS and CGBL. She began by reviewing and assessing the original “Sowing the Seeds of Success” PDF by looking for outdated and missing content. Necessary updates and additions were pinpointed and resources were researched and gathered. Language was updated to reflect diverse language, perspectives, examples and graphics. Examples were expanded to include working with children, youth, adult and family audiences. Relevant interactive activities were created to supplement the readings.

Next the original PDF document was transferred to a text format accessible in the Wordpress interface and the updated text and information was added to the CGBL website. National colleagues were interviewed and their quotes were integrated throughout the project, which also served to call national attention to the use of the resource. The project was peer reviewed and the suggested revisions were implemented. For example, reviewers suggested making the web-based resource available as a downloadable PDF format. With the assistance of the Cornell Horticulture Section Communication Specialist, a PDF template with appropriate logos was created along with a full PDF version.

Impact: 

Doherty worked with AHS staff throughout the process, corresponding with the AHS executive director and others regularly, and participated in several calls to discuss promotion. She was interviewed for an early 2017 AHS American Gardener magazine, and also promoted the newly revised “Sowing the Seeds of Success” web pages via the CGBL social media and the CCE listserv platform. The project has been a mutual benefit to AHS and CGBL as a means of educating the gardening public.

This important new resource will serve as a foundational tool for a new CGBL leadership certificate. The resources are easy to use, free, accessible, and the additional support and preparation of educators and volunteers through this leadership certificate, and through ongoing workshops, ensures its relevance and application.

Submitted by: 

  • Eames-Sheavly, Marcia

Researchers involved: 

  • Eames-Sheavly, Marcia
  • Doherty, Fiona

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York