AUTHOR: Molly Sturnioio
AGENCY: The Bellefonte Community Children’s Garden
The Bellefonte Community Children's Garden, where children connect with nature. The garden is located 10 miles from Penn State University in the historic town of Bellefonte. Demonstration garden plans evolved in 2007 and partnerships formed with the Centre County Library and Historical Museum, Bellefonte Garden Club and Penn State Master Gardeners.
Our mission is to provide a living garden where children can explore, learn, and experience the sheer delight of growing in nature. The garden is for children of all ages to look, touch, listen, feel, smell, taste and use their imagination.
For the last ten years, Family Discovery Days were live public events held four times a year to celebrate the change of the seasons. Each garden event is theme-based, and all activities are hands-on. The children in attendance visit stations to learn, hunt, explore, and create. Each child makes something to take home and something to leave in the garden.
When face-to-face learning was no longer possible, Master Gardeners came up with a different plan to include a virtual platform that would be interactive for the community. Hands-on activities, video instructions, and supporting posts and images were made available to parents and children on the Facebook social media platform. Activity Kits were pre-packed with supplies and made available at the Circulation Desk at the Bellefonte Centre County Library. If parents could not drop in at the library, an instructional video, directions for preparing activities, and a supply list were made available on Facebook. Each Family Discovery Days seasonal program was now accessible for participation over an eight to ten-week period. Over 750 kits were given out at the first three virtual events.
Laura Sarge, Children’s Librarian, Youth Services and Outreach
Centre County Library and Historical Museum writes:
“We so greatly appreciate our partnership with the Master Gardeners. Virtual Discovery Days has allowed the Library to enhance our programming in a unique way and reach many community members, of all ages, with engaging and interactive content. The virtual discovery days were quite well received and easy for the library to share and include in other virtual programming as support. Kits were usually gone within a few days of putting them out. This program helped the library to stay relevant to the community during unsteady times. I am so excited to see how our partnership will grow for the benefit of our community. “
The switch to virtual learning for the Bellefonte Community Children’s Garden Master Gardeners was quick and effective. Through Master Gardeners and the Bellefonte Community Children's Garden, young and old alike continue to connect with nature.