Gardening Camp engages youth in 4-H activities

Stock photo.

The best part of the recent 4-H Spring Gardening Camp, according to 4-H’er Timothy, was “drawing my garden and making friends.” 

Youth from the Rochester City School District’s Enrico Fermi School 17 participated in five days of hands-on learning experiences with volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County, School 17 and the Center for Youth: Earthworks program. 

Youth gained hands-on experience as they participated in garden-based learning activities in the school’s garden and greenhouse. Monroe County 4-H volunteers guided them through four days of projects, and ended the camp with a field trip to the Strong Museum of Play and Butterfly Garden. 

The camp was open to all School 17 students in grades K-2. The camp stemmed from a discussion between Rochester Youth Year VISTAs, Destiny Draggett and Yoenia Bernit, located at host sites CCE-Monroe and School 17. VISTAs serve for a year at a site throughout the county with the goal of building capacity and increasing sustainability. 

4-H educator Lori Koenick guided a soil painting activity where students learned the difference between soil and dirt, how soil impacts the success of gardens and why it is important. 4-H’ers then created their own paintings using soil collected from the local area. Nutrition educator Iluminada Vilca discussed the importance of having plenty of “go foods” in one’s diet and why it is important to limit “woah foods,” or foods that are high in sugars and fats. Youth applied this knowledge in a hands-on matching game. 

The 4-H’ers also ventured into the big kids science room with seventh grade science teacher Ellie Coonce, who led an activity where they dissected and examined a tulip. Using microscopes, 4-H’ers looked at pollen from flowers and drew what they were seeing. 

Youth also learned about the three sisters, designed their own garden beds, and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers and microgreens. Many were able to see sprouts by the last day of camp.