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By Craig Cramer
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  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture Section

A new online course from Cornell Garden-Based Learning aims to help educators and organizers make their school and community garden programs more effective.

Planning a Successful School & Community Garden Program is a six-week course that focuses on the foundations and benefits of garden-based learning, and provides the tools, resources, and collaborative support needed to plan, organize, and develop a successful and sustainable gardening program. It will be offered for the first time starting June 27.

“We are excited to offer this new course to Cooperative Extension educators, teachers, volunteers and others who are working to make sure that their garden programs fit the needs of their organizations as well as their students and gardeners,” says Ashley Helmholdt, who leads Cornell Garden-Based Learning and is an Extension Associate in the Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“We’re also excited to welcome Donna Alese Cooke as instructor of the course,” adds Helmholdt. Alese Cooke, who also teaches Cornell Garden-Based Learning’s online courses in Organic Gardening and Garden Design, began her horticulture career in her family’s nursery and landscape business and her own businesses in floral and garden design. 

Meet the instructor

Donna Alese Cooke

As Community Horticulture Specialist, for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orange, Rockland, and Suffolk Counties, Donna Alese Cooke managed Master Gardener Volunteers and served as advisor for many youth, school, and community gardens and served on faculty at the University of Florida. She also has an educational background in landscape design, childhood education, curriculum development, and instructional technology. 

Alese Cooke began her horticulture career in her family’s nursery and landscape business and her own businesses in floral and garden design, and she also teaches Cornell Garden-Based Learning’s online courses in Organic Gardening and Garden Design,

Image: Course instructor Donna Alese Cooke weighs harvest with elementary school gardeners.

 

donna alese cooke working with young gardeners

The Planning a Successful School & Community Garden Program course’s weekly topics include:

  • Growing your planning team, community partnerships
  • Developing garden program goals using logic models
  • Tapping your community resources
  • Evaluation and assessment, building your curriculum toolbox
  • Creating sustainable gardens, finding funding
  • Project portfolio, next steps

Visit the course webpage for more details and registration information.

Cornell Garden-Based Learning also offers online courses in beginning and advanced Botanical Illustration and Permaculture Design.  Visit the Horticulture Distance Learning Program website for more information.

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