How green does your garden grow?

Moving from the Convention Center to the Bishop Museum, ASTC Annual Conference attendees had an opportunity to get outdoors and dig in the dirt. Held on October 4, “Involving the Community in Environmental Issues: A Hands-On Garden Workshop” led participants through a garden exploration that demonstrated how gardening outreach programs can help engage underserved local communities in the global conversation on critical environmental issues.

The session began with participants collecting soil samples from around the museum grounds. With help from Peter Van Dyke, manager of the Bishop Museum’s Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, they then tested the soil’s pH levels, a procedure that can help reveal human-caused environmental impacts, such as acid rain.

Following the activity, presenters from the Communities of Learning for Urban Environments and Science (CLUES) project shared their experiences in developing family gardening programs at their museums. CLUES is a grant-funded collaboration between the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (in Camden) and the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Zoo, and the Academy of Natural Sciences (all in Philadelphia), which focuses on teaching science to families in communities of the Philadelphia–Camden region. Participants also received an outline of a family outdoor workshop to use at their own science centers.

About the image: A session participant collects soil samples for pH level testing. Photo by Christine Ruffo