COLUMBIA — Clemson Cooperative Extension agents with expertise in horticulture and 4-H Youth Development will be featured presenters at the American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Garden Symposium July 13-16 in Columbia. The Columbia Marriott, 1200 Hampton Street, will be the event’s headquarters.

children_gardeningThe symposium will include more than 40 presentations and provide a forum for hundreds of educators, garden designers, program leaders and others from across the country who are passionate about connecting kids with plants and the natural world.

Clemson experts will present their ideas about school gardening for South Carolina educators, children’s garden design and 4-H gardening projects.

“Several Extension programs, such as 4-H, are exclusively dedicated to serving children and their families,” said Ellen Vincent, environmental landscape specialist at Clemson. “These programs provide important education both in and out of school.”

One such program is the South Carolina 4-H Small Garden Project, designed to educate the state’s youth about where and how their food is grown using hands-on, in-the-garden experiences.

“A garden can play myriad roles, such as a hands-on learning lab, a source of fresh and delicious foods, an exciting place to play, a foundation for a business and a beautiful place to connect with the miracles of nature,” said Ping Honzay, who coordinates the symposium for the American Horticultural Society. “Columbia abounds with examples of all of these and much more.”

The symposium also will feature visits to Heathwood Hall, a preK to 12th-grade school that boasts an impressive School Environmental Education program (SEED) and the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden’s newly opened Waterfall Junction children’s garden.

Additional field trips will go to other school gardens in the Columbia area, Moore Farms Botanical Garden in nearby Lake City, the Clemson University Sandhill Research & Education Center and Carolina Children’s Garden in northeast Columbia.

Clemson Cooperative Extension is partnering with Heathwood Hall and Riverbanks Zoo & Garden to co-host the event.

For additional information, visit www.ahs.org/ncygs, email education@ahs.org, or call 703-768-5700 ext. 121.

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The American Horticultural Society (AHS), founded in 1922, is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens. The mission of the AHS is to open the eyes of all Americans to the vital connection between people and plants, to inspire all Americans to become responsible caretakers of the Earth, to celebrate America’s diversity through the art and science of horticulture; and to lead this effort by sharing the society’s unique national resources with all Americans.