Date of Award

12-2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Plant Sciences

Major Professor

Susan L. Hamilton

Committee Members

Mary Lewnes Albrecht, J. Mark Fly, Stephen Garton

Abstract

Among public gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) hosts the oldest children’s gardening program in the United States. Founded in 1914, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Children’s Gardening Program (BBG CGP) has succeeded in involving a steady flow of children year after year, creating an environment where children have the opportunity to interact with nature. Approximately 35,000 children have participated in the BBG CGP since its inception in 1914. A mail survey was conducted of alumni of the BBG CGP in the spring of 2005 to identify how the program has affected their adult lives. A random sample of 700 participants was selected from the BBG CGP alumni records of which there were names with current addresses. Ninety-eight alumni responded to the mail survey for a response rate of 25.6%. The survey consisted of 45 questions which were divided into five major sections: 1) Current gardening interest, 2) Involvement with public gardens, 3) Current involvement with children’s gardening programs, 4) Childhood experiences in the BBG CGP, and 5) Demographic variables. Adult alumni reported they enjoyed their experiences as a child participant in BBG’s CGP. Alumni also indicated the program helped in the development of various personal skills as well as increasing their self-esteem. Over 30% of alumni stated that the program helped them choose a career path, which in many cases was within the natural sciences field. Results suggest the participant’s childhood development and learning skills gained from this program have played an important role in their adult lives and they regard the BBG CGP as having great value in their lives.

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