BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden has received a $10,000 grant from Dow Chemical through its DowGives program for construction of a Children’s Garden Outdoor Classroom to serve as a teaching shelter, sound barrier and protection from the sun.
“This shelter will help us expand the learning opportunities at the Children’s Garden,” said Jeff Kuehny, director of the Botanic Gardens. “Hands-on learning is crucial to urban students learning about environmental issues in the classroom, especially because they have little exposure to natural resources on a daily basis in their lives. We are thankful for the support and partnership DowGives has shown in awarding us this grant.”
The new teaching shelter, which is scheduled to be completed this summer, will offer classroom capacity and shade not currently available to Children’s Garden visitors. The wooden shelter will have three sides open to allow for observation and demonstration. Wooden tables and benches will be built specifically for activities and small group exercises. A small storage area will provide space for gardening tools, children’s watering cans and educational supplies.
The Children’s Garden, which was built in 2012, is used to show teachers, individuals and parents how to raise plants and how to build raised beds. It’s also used to show teachers how to incorporate a garden into their curriculum so children not only learn gardening but also math, science, social studies and other topics.
“Support from companies like Dow helps ensure that community organizations and businesses work together to expand our children’s knowledge of sustainability, horticulture, agriculture, environmentalism and other related lessons tied to science,” said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture.
DowGives is an annual competitive grant program designed to support projects in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), economic development or sustainability. This is one of 14 grant awards made by DowGives statewide in 2013, according to Abby Cook of Dow Public Affairs.
“The DowGives program has been established to ensure Dow’s grant-making and employee volunteer efforts are focused in a manner that makes the greatest possible impact on the quality of life for people,” Cook said.
“The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden are such wonderful assets to our local community,” Cook said. “Dow is proud to partner with the Botanic Gardens and contribute to the Children’s Garden Outdoor Classroom so that they can continue to enhance their opportunities for local children to learn about the wonders of science through hands-on experiences.”
The Children’s Garden is used as part of Project Learning Tree, an offshoot of the Trees & Trails at Burden program sponsored by the Burden Horticulture Society. Society and Master Gardener docents take children on Trees & Trails field trips to widen their knowledge of nature, conservation and environmental sciences, Kuehny said.
“With 1 percent of the population growing most of the food we eat, many children have no idea what it takes to grow our food,” Kuehny said. “Through hands-on learning opportunities paired with age-appropriate activities in science, math, engineering, literacy and social studies, children who experience the Children’s Garden can be inspired to become future researchers and scientists. They can also learn about nutrition and how food is grown.”
The Children’s Garden can be used in creative ways to improve STEM subject knowledge, according to Kiki Fontenot, AgCenter horticulturist who directs the School Community Garden program. For example, math and science skills can be strengthened by measuring distance between plants, length, area, volume of garden beds and percent germination of plants. Geography skills can be honed by focusing on vegetables’ countries of origin and having students locate those areas on world maps.
“The Children’s Gardens offers a two-part learning process for students. Teachers may start the garden part of their lesson at the Botanic Gardens by measuring the plants or looking for butterflies. Then, they may use the teaching shelter or return to their school classrooms to finish their lessons,” Fontenot said.
For more information on donating to the Botanic Gardens, call Gigi Gauthier, development director, at (225) 763-3990 or email email@example.com. For more information about the site, visit www.discoverburden.com or call (225) 763-3990.