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School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training

The online School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training will cover best practices for building, using and maintaining school and youth food gardening programs.

Learning and Teaching in Gardens

This unique program has been thoughtfully designed and developed to give you the knowledge, resources and inspiration to implement and maintain an edible school garden built on a foundation of broad community involvement and support.

Whether you’re new to gardening or if you are looking to bring an established school garden program to the next level, this online School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training program will meet you where you're at and give you the tips and techniques you can implement immediately.

Farm to School - School Garden Training

The course starts with the context of school gardens within the broader Farm to School movement and the multiple research-based benefits of school garden education.

By the end of this program, you will gain the insight and knowledge to: 

  • Engage diverse stakeholders in a school community in a collective planning process for a sustainable program.
  • Explore the elements of school garden infrastructure and planting for the school year. Take virtual tours of multiple school gardens and learn via discussions and interactive activities.
  • Teach in the school garden, from curriculum selection to outdoor class management. Several demonstration lessons will be shared.
  • Facilitate cooking with children, understand food safety guidelines and see how you can incorporate the garden into the school’s cafeteria.
  • Examine the long-term financial and program sustainability of school gardens.

Each week, you will have access to videos and other presentations, followed by a live discussion so that you can share your own experiences and learn from your classmates.

This online school gardens training has a focus on elementary school/youth programs, but it can also be adapted to middle and high school-aged students as well.

While the virtual school garden tours are in Oregon, the practical tips on everything from garden design to volunteer management are applicable no matter where you live.


School Gardens Program Overview

Module 1: Introduction & Action Planning

You will feel connected to a larger community of like-minded school garden enthusiasts and tap into the deeper mission of why you want to develop a school garden program.

Module 2: Community Engagement

You'll see the importance of broad community engagement and gain strategies to increase involvement of diverse stakeholders in the school gardens. Three school garden coordinators share their successes and challenges.

Module 3: Garden Design & Maintenance

You'll gain the tools to create a well thought out garden design, maintenance plan and planting plan that considers key elements of educational gardens.

Module 4: Teaching Youth in the Garden

You'll be inspired to use the garden for teaching multiple subjects, as well as gain confidence in teaching in the garden.

Module 5: Harvesting & Tasting

You'll learn how produce can be used in cafeterias and how to engage students in food-based activities.

Module 6: Funding & Making Programs Last

In the last module, you'll learn the elements of long-term program sustainability and understand strategies to secure the resources to achieve long-lasting school garden programs.

School Gardens Class Format

Each week there will be asynchronous materials (videos, virtual school garden tours, presentations) and an optional live discussion session.

You will be guided through creating an Action Plan for your own school garden.

Each section of the Action Plan corresponds to the 6 modules so you leave with a roadmap for your school garden, from the overarching mission to specific plans related to community engagement, garden design and maintenance, teaching, harvesting and long-term funding.

We welcome you to post to the discussion board and share your own experiences.

There will also be Optional Discussion Sessions held every Thursday evening, from 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm on Google Meet. The live discussion sessions are not recorded.

Learn from Outdoor Education Experts

The course will be delivered by a team of instructors from Growing Gardens, which has been teaching an annual School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training since 2010. Guest speakers from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Education also share their expertise. The presentations are complemented by virtual school garden tours, interviews with coordinators at different schools, demonstration lessons and downloadable resources.

Our instructors draw on in-depth experience of teaching in 12 school gardens and helping to keep them thriving year after year. The instructor team includes:

  • Amoreena Guerrero (she/her), Youth Grow Program Manager, Growing Gardens
  • Betsy Lattig (she/they), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens
  • Kelley Smith (she/her), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens
  • Kathy Barry (she/her), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens
  • Allison Yoder (she/her), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens
  • Carla Manuel (she/her), Food Corps Service Member at Growing Gardens

In addition to these instructors in the live discussion groups, asynchronous content is provided by:

  • Michelle Markestyn, Farm to School Coordinator, Oregon State University
  • Rick Sherman, Farm to School/School Garden Analyst, Oregon Department of Education
  • Kat Barton, Former Youth Grow Educator and Coordinator, Growing Gardens
  • Rebecca Melton (she/her) Former Youth Grow Garden Coordinator
  • Maxine Rodrigues (she/they), Former Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens 
  • Anna Garwood, Former Youth Grow Program Director

School Gardens and Beyond

As mentioned, this course is tailored to meet a broad range of experience and is ideal for:
● Parent volunteers just getting started
● Staff at school gardens and support organizations
● Classroom teachers
● After school program staff
● Nutrition services staff
● Urban farmers
● FoodCorps service members

September 23 - November 17, 2024
8 weeks | Asynchronous
price (2)
Additional Information:
Earn 12 Professional Development Units (PDUs) for educators

risk-free-boxEnjoy peace of mind with our risk-free guarantee on online instructor-led courses.


Kat Barton

Kat Barton, Youth Grow Educator and Coordinator, Growing Gardens

After studying Environmental Studies and Psychology in her home state of Vermont, Kat ventured to Oregon with the goal to help make environmental resources and benefits more accessible to all. While completing two years of service as a FoodCorps member, Kat found that she loved planning and leading hands-on cooking activities with kids in addition to getting them outside and learning in the school garden. Kat started as a staff member with Growing Gardens after her FoodCorps service, in November of 2019, and brought almost five years of experience with garden and food-based education!

Anna Garwood

Anna Garwood (she/her), Program Director, Youth Grow, Growing Gardens Anna has 20 years managing non-profit programs, a BA in Anthropology/Spanish (University of Virginia) and Graduate Certificate in Sustainability (Portland State University). She has directed the Youth Grow program for over 5 years. In this role, she oversaw the expansion of the program from one focused on afterschool enrichment to one teaching 3000 students a year, integrated into the core curriculum. She has secured private, state and federal grants to grow the program. She also facilitates the regional hub of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network. Prior to Growing Gardens, she was the Executive Director of Green Empowerment, a non-profit that develops community-based renewable energy and drinking water systems around the world.

Amoreena Guerrero

Amoreena Guerrero (she/her), Youth Grow Program Manager, Growing Gardens Amoreena has been a part of the Youth Grow team since 2017 helping provide support to our staff and program. She is a garden educator and former middle school classroom teacher who has been passionate about the value of school garden based learning since participating in a University of Oregon course called School Gardens in 2003. Since then she’s had the privilege of working with thousands of children in dozens of school gardens, teaching and learning from them! In addition she’s been able to help design and expand several educational garden sites mainly in the Willamette Valley. She believes that educational garden spaces can nourish our bellies, our hearts, our communities and the environment. When she’s not working she’s with her family, often in their home garden.

Betsy Lattig

Betsy Lattig (she/they), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens Betsy was born in Portland, and spent half of her childhood in the rugged beauty of the Oregon coast in Astoria. Betsy is a passionate educator, sparking joy for learning in both children and adults. She has spent the past 15 years teaching art, ecology, and gardening in the Portland area. Beyond her love of children and education, Betsy also enjoys gardening, hanging out with her teenage boys, doing art, and spending time with friends and family in nature.

Michelle Markestyn

Michelle Markestyn, PhD, (she/her) Farm to School Coordinator, Oregon State University

Michelle is a mom on a mission to make it easy to raise happy, healthy kids and help our farmers prosper. For over 25 years she has gotten her hands dirty on farms 4-4,000 acres in size, taught in school gardens, researched ways to make it easier to get local foods on our tables, and then advocated for policies that do just that. Michelle helped craft the first farm to school and school garden legislation in Oregon, establish the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network, and shape the farm to school program at the Oregon Department of Education.  She served as the first Western Regional Lead to the National Farm to School Network, directed FoodCorps in Oregon, and served as the Farm to School Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Ecotrust. Michelle also helped launch a national school food company, and founded the country’s first farm to school edutainment production company to close the gap between nutrition education in the cafeteria, classroom and community. She lives in the heart of the Willamette Valley with her two growing boys. 


Rebecca Melton

Rebecca Melton (she/her) Youth Grow Garden Coordinator

Rebecca started her serious journey with gardening in pots in a cemented backyard in Baltimore, MD. It began with an interest in herbs and flowers and has grown into a passion. Food is medicine and food is power. To grow your own food is to take control of your health and well being. Gardening is more than just a beautiful hobby. It feeds your mind, your body, and your soul. Rebecca started as a low income gardener in the Home Gardens program when her son was in kindergarten and she was struggling to make ends meet. From there she went to work for Growing Gardens in Home Gardens and now works in Youth Grow. She tends, with love, her neighborhood school garden and believes that growing good food and doing good business helps communities grow.

Maxine Rodrigues

Maxine Rodrigues (she/they), Youth Grow Educator, Growing Gardens Maxine has always had a passion for plants and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Natural Resources. Afterwards, Max spent time in two AmeriCorps programs, teaching both youth and adults about the importance of conservation, gardening, healthy eating, equity work, and watershed management. Max started working for Growing Gardens in 2018 and has cultivated strong relationships with the schools at which they work. In their spare time, Maxine likes to go hiking, cook delicious meals with friends, play music, and appreciate the beauty of the PNW.

Rick Sherman

Rick Sherman: Farm to School/School Garden Analyst, Oregon Department of Education Rick was hired by the Oregon Department of Education in 2012 as the Farm to School/School Garden coordinator after working for 32 years mainly as a school Nutrition Services Director. Rick identified all of Oregon’s school gardens- Oregon was the first state to do so (currently there are 778 school gardens in Oregon!); developed a school garden food safety training & documentation manual; and operates a $10 million grant for reimbursing school districts that purchase Oregon grown and processed food & providing educational activities for students.Rick Graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Education. He was a runner for forty years, competing at the national level in the Steeplechase, and has been a high school track and cross country coach for 20 years. Rick is a Master Gardener, loves home brewing, & riding dirt bikes. He spends his spare time in his backyard garden and raising chickens. WEBSITE:   https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/childnutrition/F2S/Pages/default.aspx 

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.