The following entry is from Audrey Strothkamp, who is currently working towards her Master of Public Health in Health Promotion at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her Capstone project involves conducting research at Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools to assess how school gardens may be integrated into core academic curriculum, with the goal of bolstering the health and wellness of Buckingham citizens.

With childhood obesity on the rise in the United States, school gardens have shown promise in helping address the health issue through the promotion of healthy eating and active lifestyles. While school gardens have been shown to be effective in addressing the issue, there is a need to provide the schools with better guidance on the integration of such programs into their regular core curriculum and practices

The goal of my Capstone project is to assess the best practice methods regarding the integration of school gardens into core academic classes while promoting synergistic health and academic outcomes. To reach this goal, the project will identify the barriers and strengths pertaining to the implementation of school gardens and garden-based curriculum explained by interviews with stakeholders and key informants.

The project will also provide Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools with materials containing best practice material to assist in the implementation of curriculum into core academic subjects. The feasibility of school garden curricula will be determined through the piloting of curricula during summer school and then assessing the possible changes in student’s knowledge of fruits and vegetables, preference, and consumption based around the pilot curricula.

Summer school students will spend time in the garden, utilizing a hands on approach, as well as in a classroom where they can apply the lessons learned outside to classroom based curriculum. The project will also utilize the architectural design features of the Buckingham school to assist in enhancing the learning experience.

Fall GardenFor more information about garden-related educational initiatives, please see the following:

by Audrey Strothkamp, Mater’s Candidate, University of Nebraska
Medical Center, College of Public Health