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A community program is showing that gardens are ready to grow STEM skills for elementary school students.

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The founder of Ready to Grow Gardens, Stephanie Baker, found that developing a gardening curriculum for elementary school students as part of her Master Gardening certification led to a full time job in multiple school districts.

Back in 2002, Baker was a stay at home mom who volunteered at Sheridan Elementary School for gardening projects. She developed a curriculum by teaming with the school principal and district science resource center.

Since then she has expanded the program to other schools including private preschools.

“Every school we work with has two elements: a vegetable garden to grow food and a butterfly garden to observe habitats,” Baker said. “[They see] the seasons change, planting the seeds, caring for them, harvesting them and enjoying them.”

The program is supported by PTO groups and Title I funds. Local businesses sponsor schools as well. The schools decide which grades participate, and Baker and her team of five instructors teach lessons reinforcing concepts that students learn in the classroom. They also maintain school gardens between visits.

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