Washington Youth Garden

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

For 50 years, Washington Youth Garden (WYG), the youth outreach and education branch of Friends of the National Arboretum, has provided hands-on education to connect youth to food, the land, and each other. We help District of Columbia youth build positive relationships with food and nature, increase consumption of healthy foods, and gain knowledge of science, agriculture, and nutrition. 

Established in 1971 on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum to teach local elementary students horticultural and life skills, WYG has grown into an award-winning education program supporting thousands of under-resourced students all over Washington, DC for the past half century.

WYG’S STORY

In 1971, the Washington Youth Garden Council and the DC Department of Recreation broke ground at the U.S. National Arboretum. This established the fourth Youth Garden site in DC to teach elementary school students horticultural and life skills.

In 1973, WYG partnered with neighboring elementary schools to create the Garden Club for 3rd-5th graders. It operated as part of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation as an established community garden for children from local schools and DPR camps until 1996.

historic photo of students tilling soil in the washington youth garden
historic photo of students taking notes as they walk through the washington youth garden

In 1996, due to DC budget cuts, Friends of the National Arboretum adopted Washington Youth Garden. It became our youth education and outreach program.

Adding a second full-time staff member in 1999 allowed WYG to significantly expand its programs.

In 2000, WYG started working directly with school gardens by establishing the Garden Science program, an 8 week plant science unit offered in classrooms at Title 1 schools. This program offered more formal horticulture science curricula than its predecessor, the Garden Club.

The Science Programming Reaching OUT (SPROUT) program was introduced in 2002 to bring Garden Science students on field trips to WYG.

Growing Food Growing Together started for families to learn gardening and cooking skills in their own plots at WYG.

In 2007, WYG instituted its summer internship program for college students.

We greatly appreciate the National Capital Area Garden Club’s crucial support during this time in our history which allowed WYG to flourish.

historic photo of students holding bunches of kale in the washington youth garden
historic photo of students on a field trip in the washington youth garden

In 2010, our garden staff grew to 3 full-time members. We began installing school gardens in conjunction with Garden Science, and led the development of the DC Healthy Schools Act that dedicated state resources to horticulture education for the first time. WYG served 1,000 youth this year.

The Green Ambassador Program was established in 2013 for DC teenagers to gain experience in green careers through a paid summer internship.

In 2017 WYG hosted 4,200 students from 130 schools and camps on SPROUT field trips, marking the first year we served 6,000 youth.

The Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching began in 2018 and the Green Ambassadors Program solidified its multi-tiered model.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic halted all in-person programs in 2020, we adapted to make our program supports more flexible and tied to our partner school’s needs. In 2020, we introduced the Educator Coaching Program to provide hands-on assistance and instruction to teachers throughout the school year. This program now serves 8 to 12 Title 1 DC schools annually. 

Washington Youth Garden now grows over 7,500 lbs of food annually for distribution through our partner schools and community partners. It remains a hub for young people, teachers, and families to learn about how they can grow food in their schools and homes. Through all our youth programs, FONA serves over 7,000 students across the District.

Washington Youth Garden green ambassadors with the day's harvest

GROW THE GARDEN CAMPAIGN

FONA is committed to providing excellent youth education at the National Arboretum. Each phase of the Grow the Garden campaign helps us make the Washington Youth Garden more engaging, accessible, and productive for future generations.

Thanks to our community, we have completed fundraising for Phase 2 of this campaign! With the help of 147 donors, we raised more than $173,000 in nine months to renovate the Washington Youth Garden’s perimeter fence. Donations ranged from $5 to $50,000, and every single one made a difference in helping us complete this project.

This new fence makes the garden more welcoming and engaging for all who visit the U.S. National Arboretum. A special thank you to our two generous anonymous donors who cumulatively provided $60,000 in matching donations for the campaign. Below is a list of supporters who have made this project possible. Thank you to all of the donors who made this project possible!

Campaign Phases

FONA is committed to providing excellent youth education at the National Arboretum. Each phase of the Grow the Garden campaign helps us make the Washington Youth Garden more engaging, accessible, and productive for future generations.

wyg garden redesign map

Click the map to view in full screen, or click here for a downloadable version.

The Washington Youth Garden's new fence features a yellow honeycomb design and front entrance gate.

The Washington Youth Garden’s new fence features a yellow honeycomb design and front entrance gate.

Kara Lundberg

June 12, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Elizabeth Darlingon

June 8, 2024

Amount Donated
$500

Kelley Wilson

June 7, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Beth Moore

June 5, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Anonymous

May 23, 2024

Amount Donated
$11

Anne McGarvey

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Rachel Unkovic

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$100
in memory of Ruthie Mae U.

Claire Alrich

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Allison Taylor

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Anonymous

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$16

Elizabeth Rossman

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Viona Zhang

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Bryan Chippeaux

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$258

Joseph Compofelice

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Samantha Alvis

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Nzinga Tull

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$258

Paula Zimmerman

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Kaifa Anderson-Hall

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$25

Grace Denman

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$50

Samantha Trumbull

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Emmett and Nalo T.

Anthony Treubrodt

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Katie Maloney

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$25

John & Genevieve Sandoval

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Janani Perera

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$15

Lauren Sharrock

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$16

Joan Melville-Kohls

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$100

Catherine Kerkam

May 20, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Beatrice Dermer

May 20, 2024

Amount Donated
$129

Leandra Nichola & Adam Dorius

May 13, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Pamela Raymont-Simpson

May 11, 2024

Amount Donated
$155

Ann Yuan

March 27, 2024

Amount Donated
$200

JEAN LANGE

March 4, 2024

Amount Donated
$500

Progress Toward $60K Matching Gift

March 3, 2024

Amount Donated
$49,977

Anonymous

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Thomas Kapfer

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Leslie Sharp

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Alexis Hazen

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Charles Dhysr

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Anonymous

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Kate LaTour

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Susan P Thompson

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Katherine Benjamin

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

John Albert

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Virginia A.

Leanna Fenske

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Nancy Luria

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Anonymous

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$5

Candy Kessel

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Sofia Gardenswartz

February 5, 2024

Amount Donated
$11

Eric Hansen

December 31, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Jan McCarthy

December 31, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Susan Chapin and Joel Cohen

December 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,878

Linda and John Derrick

December 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$5,000

Maura Nakahata

December 24, 2023

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Eleanor S.

Jonathan Coopersmith

December 21, 2023

Amount Donated
$200

Niraj Ray

December 14, 2023

Amount Donated
$200

Elizabeth Dugan

December 8, 2023

Amount Donated
$325

Capitol Hill Community Foundation

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$3,000

John Sanford Kemper

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Michael Bujold

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$15

Marcel LaFollette

December 6, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

Eric Michael

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,000

DAVID MOLLITOR

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$180

Luke Dickinson

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

John Healey

November 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$50

Carolyn Peery

November 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$155

Nadia Shebaro

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Craven Rand

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$5,150

Janet Nuzum

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Melissa Stahl

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Maura Allen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Bernard Foster

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Catherine Robbins

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Inas Anderson

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$50
in honor of Brody Nathan M.

Marcel C. LaFollette

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Lee Coykendall

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Laurel Cullen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$16

Hans Wien

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Dorothy Woodcock

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,030

Anonymous

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Michael Stevens

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

Ursula Kondo

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

withers horner

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Elissa Feldman

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

John Strand

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$309

Linda Lee

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$26

Kay Glenday

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Cecilia Carroll

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$26

Angela Domanico

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103
in honor of FONA S.

Austin Pedersen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$21

Mary Frase

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Diann McGarvey

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

GAIL CHARNLEY ELLIOTT

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,236

Bill and Donna Roberts

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,030

Jeanne Connelly

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$100

Matthew McClellan

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$50

Lesley Conroy

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Nadia Mercer

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Maryam Trowell-McCloud

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$16

Kari Rowe

November 25, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Mark & Cindy Clark

November 16, 2023

Amount Donated
$500

CELEBRATORY EVENTS

Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating Washington Youth Garden’s 50th anniversary at our Birthday Party and Evening Benefit! Thank you in particular to the donors, sponsors, and in-kind supporters who made these events possible.

At both events, we met participants from the past five decades and shared stories of how the garden has changed since its inception in 1971. We also introduced new people of all ages to WYG, played games in the garden, and shared about our current education programs. Most importantly, we shared our vision for what the next 50 years of garden-based education in Washington Youth Garden will look like, starting with our proposed plans to redesign the garden.

Sponsor list as of June 7, 2022.

Sponsors

Margaret Strand
Lucy S. Rhame

Laura and Guy Cecala
Lynne H. Church
Gail Charnley Elliott and E. Donald Elliott
Jennifer Hatcher
Sherril Houghton
Lloyd E. Mitchell Foundation
Rafael Lopez and Linda Marks
Jim and Penny Morrill
National Capital Area Garden Clubs
Catherine Nottingham
Melissa and John Pflieger
Craven Rand
Pamela Raymont-Simpson and Charles J. Simpson, Jr.
Barbara and Jim Shea
Michael G. Stevens
Tuckie Westfall
Ken and Dottie Woodcock

Corporate Sponsors

Bernstein Management Corporation
Your Part-Time Controller

In-Kind Sponsors

Other Half Brewing
Supreme Core Cider

SHARE YOUR STORY

historic photo of students posing in front of cabbages in the washington youth garden

We want to hear your stories! With half a century of impact in our community, we want to know:

What does the Washington Youth Garden mean to you?

Write your story (no more than 500 words), share your photos, or upload a short video (30-40 seconds, no greater than 50 mb) answering this question and wishing Washington Youth Garden a happy birthday. We might feature your message in our birthday video!

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Share a photo or video that explains what Washington Youth Garden means to you (50 mb max)
So we can reach back out if we have additional questions.

SUPPORT OUR PROGRAMS

Join us in celebrating the Washington Youth Garden’s 50th anniversary and help us plan for the next half century.

Become a FONA member today and help FONA and the Washington Youth Garden strengthen our visitor and education programs to better support the needs of our community. 

Your support helps programs like the Washington Youth Garden thrive! 

Thank you for helping us succeed — here’s to another spectacular 50 years!

fona staff holding asparagus in the washington youth garden

Support Our Programs

keyboard_arrow_up