2018 is the third year of the Urban Roots program at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The Urban Roots Teen Docent Program works with a group of students from Al Raby High School who are excited to engage with the sciences, gardening, and the Garfield Park Community. The program’s purpose is to develop teens to be experts of our collection by teaching hands-on lessons about plant biology, horticulture, and professionalism.
The program begins with a paid, 6-week summer internship followed weekly programming at the Garfield Park Conservatory during the consecutive two school years. The summer internship is an intensive, experiential training in botany and interpretation where teens will do the following:
- Learn about the Conservatory, from our history to the plants in our collection
- Develop interpretation skills that help them communicate plant information to visitors
- Engage in STEM lessons and labs related to plant biology and sustainability
- Work with Chicago Park District staff to take care of the plants and exhibits
- Grow and maintain their own gardens
- Take field trips to cultural institutions throughout the Chicago area
- Gain exposure to STEM-related careers
- Create media for the public such as videos about their favorite plants in the Conservatory
- Participate in personal development exercises and team building activities
During the school year, our teen docents engage with visiting field trip groups, teach them about our collection, and get them excited about plants. Teens also receive additional training on interpretation, plant information, and professional skills. They earn stipends and community service credit for their work.
This program supports the professional and personal development of participating teens, while also providing links and support for students’ academic work during the school year. In return, our teen docents help the Conservatory connect more deeply with more students across Chicago. This program would not be possible without the support of IMLS, Advocate Bethany, and other generous funders.
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