N.C. Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center, was excited to offer the Youth Education Program at the Arboretum at Tanglewood Park in April 2023. This was the first time the Program has been held since 2019. The Youth Education Program is designed to address NC third grade science standards through hands-on lessons about plant science. Students visit the Arboretum at Tanglewood Park to participate in this field trip program.
Over four days in April 2023, 525 students attended the Program at the Arboretum at Tanglewood Park. Students participated in lessons about soil, composting, seeds, and carnivorous plants. The lessons, taught by Extension staff and Master Gardener Volunteers, included experiential activities and addressed NC third grade science standards. Fifty-two volunteers and staff helped with the Program over its four days, contributing a total of 448 hours in order to make the field trips successful.
In addition, the Horticulture Agent created a website containing supplemental information and activities related to concepts covered during the Program, so that teachers could reinforce these concepts in the classroom. The supplemental information website is available to the public; visit go.ncsu.edu/youth-garden-resources to access the resources.
Students attending the Youth Education Program were asked quiz questions during the program to assess their science knowledge and teachers responded to a follow-up evaluation survey after attending the Program.
Students participating in the Youth Education Program gained critical thinking skills while investigating seeds from different plants and observing adaptations of carnivorous plants. One teacher reported, “my kids loved the carnivorous plants station. They were able to learn so much about these plants that I've never been able to share” due to not having a garden at school.
88% of students correctly answered quiz questions demonstrating their knowledge of soil and seeds. All teachers strongly agreed that the lessons helped them meet NC Essential Science Standards, with one teacher saying, “All the stations fit in perfectly with our current unit of study and we have talked about each one since returning to school.” Teachers reported spending an additional eight hours using the supplemental website to reinforce the information that students learned during Youth Education.
We hope to continue offering the Youth Education Program to Forsyth County students in future years. Third grade teachers who would like more information should contact Leslie Rose.