The Environmental Media Association (EMA) and The Nature Conservancy have teamed up to further enrich children’s lives through nature with the Conservancy’s signature program, Nature Works Everywhere. Nature Works Everywhere Gardens in partnership with EMA allows children across the country to benefit from shared urban school garden experiences from Los Angeles to Atlanta through virtual outdoor labs, videos, lesson plans and an online support community to learn about gardens and how nature works for them. Together EMA and The Nature Conservancy can have greater impact and reach more students with a singular impassioned voice that inspires students to take action on behalf of nature.
The Environmental Media Association (EMA) has a history of supporting urban garden efforts in the Los Angeles area. With its ongoing partnership with the LA Conservation Corps, LAUSD, and now with Nature Works Everywhere gardens, EMA directly supports over 16 school gardens through funding and celebrity mentoring via EMA’s Young Hollywood Board and Parent Board. EMA’s first garden program launched in 2009, at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood. With this new partnership, EMA’s most recent garden build at Arabia MountainHigh School in Atlanta expands its reach to nearly 50 gardens in the US with more slated in the coming years.
Nature Works Everywhere connects students, teachers, and families to a global challenge—to protect the natural systems that produce our food, water, clean air and energy. EMA supports Nature Works Everywhere by coordinating opportunities for celebrity involvement, funding opportunities, joint program efforts and by contributing additional community gardens to the program. The partnership kicked off in late 2013 with a garden build at Curtis Bay Elementary School in Baltimore, with the EMA hosting cast members from HBO’s VEEP including Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, and Tim Simons; as well as Netflix’s House of Cards cast member Michael Kelly.
The new partnership expands the sponsor network to include national funders like CSX as well as regional sponsors from the LA region. With project-learning partners such as the Captain Planet Foundation (fun fact: headed by Laura Turner Seydel, whose father Ted Turner sits on the EMA board) and City Blossoms, the program is poised for exponential growth as online and outdoor learning continues to gain interest.
Nature Works Everywhere Gardens in partnership with EMA’s long term goal is to sponsor and support garden programs in school districts throughout the country. As new sponsors come on board, EMA adopts additional schools and connects more students to nature. Continue to check back to the EMA website for updates on the ongoing development of the gardens.
The Short Answer…
They’re great for children’s development.
EMA believes that students don’t just have to learn within the confines of four walls, but that education can take place in a dynamic atmosphere that engages them in a unique and creative fashion. School gardens provide the perfect opportunity to do just that by providing an interdisciplinary and student-centered experience that enriches their learning experience in a “living classroom.”
In many urban areas, children are surrounded by cement and asphalt. The natural environment is behind fences or windows and not available for hands-on exploration. As a result, there is a disconnect between the children and the environment. A recent survey by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom found that more than 60% of children surveyed thought that cotton comes from sheep and that vegetables come from the store. From reading, to science, math, and nutrition everything is possible in the hands-on laboratory of a school garden.
School gardens offer an experiential curriculum that can be tailored to a teacher’s needs and students’ abilities. Math, science, nutrition, health and fitness can all be taught through the use of these gardens and provide a fun environment in which learning becomes so much more than books and quizzes. Learning becomes an adventure.
According to the California Department of Education, over 77 percent of students in environment-based education programs, such as school gardens, scored higher than their peers across all standardized tests and had higher grade point averages. Students taking part in garden programs experience other benefits as well. Students are reported to have greater self-confidence, leadership and social skills, and also exhibit higher interest in volunteerism and community spirit.
It turns out that students who participate in the program discover fresh food, make healthier food choices, and are more physically active. Children who plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. The first step in developing healthier eating patterns is to increase students’ desire to taste vegetables in the first place.
Find out more about the schools participating in the EMA School Gardens program:
Young actors and actresses serve as role models to millions of people, especially youth. Through their actions, celebrities can inspire youth in their formative years, and EMA has recruited celebrities to the program to mentor and actively engage the students in the garden programs.
From planting and tending the gardens to speaking to students about healthy eating choices, board members including Amy Smart, Malin Akerman, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rosario Dawson, Rachelle Lefevre, Nicole Richie, Lance Bass, Wilmer Valderrama, Emily VanCamp, and Olivia Wilde inspire the children and share in the joy they experience from the gardens.