School Garden Summer Institute

Due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions, the 2020 SGSI has been canceled.
We plan to reschedule as much as possible from the 2020 program to 2021.

Hosted by NC State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute
at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC

Join the NC State Plants for Human Health Institute for the 3rd annual School Garden Summer Institute, a 2-day professional development workshop for teachers, administrators, volunteers or any other members of the “garden team.”


Event Date and Time: June 24-25, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Early Bird Registration $40 (Until April 15th)

General Registration $50 (April 16 – May 31st, or until event is full)

Registration is limited to 50 participants. Pay by credit card using Eventbrite. If you need to mail a check, make check payable to Plants for Human Health Institute and mail to PHHI-SGSI, 600 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081. Registration is not complete until payment is received.



Anyone interested in school gardens, edible classrooms or outdoor learning spaces. Anyone interested in how the school garden can transform student engagement and promote mastery through application of standards.

  • Classroom Teachers
  • School Nurses
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Special Education Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Master Gardeners
  • Extension Agents
  • Parent Volunteers
  • Any other members of the “garden team”



Wednesday, June 24 @ the NC Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC

Day 1 will offer concurrent sessions. Choose the session that most interests you.

8:00-8:30am – Check-in/Networking/Welcome

8:30 -10:00am

Track A: Garden Learning Centers: Ready-to-use boxes with learning manipulatives can easily be toted to the garden. Teacher, Jackie Tingen, will present her experience with centers in the garden. This session will also be a make-and-take opportunity for a measurement center.

Track B: Horticultural Therapy: Bobbie Mabe, certified horticultural therapist and owner of Growth through Gardening, shares ways that school gardening can enrich academics, encourage improved food attitudes and choices, and give children a chance to unplug and reconnect with nature.

10:00 -11:30am

Track A: Getting Started: How to Create and Maintain a School Garden: In the past 5 years, Doug Vernon and Amy Bowman have helped install school gardens and offered teacher trainings at schools across North Carolina. They’ve got lots of advice to share, including cautionary tales. Their goal is to equip teachers to fully integrate the garden into the curriculum.

Track B: Pollinators: Jodi Helmer, author of Protecting Pollinators, will cover the diversity of pollinators (hint: bees aren’t the only pollinators), the threat to pollinator populations and the value of a pollinator garden. Learn how you can integrate pollinator lessons in your school garden curriculum.

11:30am -1:30pm

Lunch and Keynote Address by Brie Arthur: Author of Foodscape Revolution, Brie Arthur discusses how gardening can help shape the future of community development. Brie will share stories from her community outreach programs with public schools across the US. She will discuss how to engage administrators, teachers, parents and grounds management staff to create bountiful and beautiful spaces that provide community pride and educational opportunities for people of all ages.

1:30 – 3:00pm

Track A: Seed Stories: Last year Doug Vernon was introduced to the book Seed School: Growing Up Amazing, and he was newly inspired by all that students can learn from seeds. Doug is a former agricultural education teacher. His role at PHHI is school and community outreach focused on school gardens.

Track B: Cooking with the School Nurse: Abraya Johnson and Dallas Picard are school nurses who have used the garden to engage students in meaningful health and nutrition lessons. Their strategies often include tasting and allowing students to help prepare low-cost, flavor-friendly dishes that they can duplicate at home.

3:00 -4:00pm

Track A: FoodCorps Opportunities: FoodCorps is a part of the AmeriCorps service network, placing trained team members in schools across the nation for a year of service. FoodCorps members focus on collaborating with teachers to deliver hands-on lessons, teaming up with cafeteria staff to steer students toward healthy options and developing a schoolwide culture of health. Find out if FoodCorps is a good fit for your school.

Track B: Working with At-risk and Special Needs Students: Ashley Honbarrier is co-founder of the non-profit organization, Happy Roots. She has worked with at-risk youth, from preschool to high school, to create a therapeutic environment that provides a respite to the chaotic world that many of them deal with from day-to-day.

Thursday, June 25 @ a local school garden (to be announced soon!)

8:00am – 4:00pm

Life Lab Training in the Garden

About the trainers:

Whitney Cohen, is a teacher, trainer, and author with tremendous commitment to, and expertise in, place-based education; student-led inquiry; strategies for engaging a diverse student population; school gardens; and the intersection between environmental education, Common Core and Next Generation academic content standards, and the public school system. As the Education Director at Life Lab, Whitney leads educator workshops nationwide and has written and contributed to various activity guides, including The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, The Growing Classroom, and The Soil Story Curriculum.

Jenna Mobley, develops curriculum and trains teachers around the world with partner organizations including Life Lab. She plays a large role in Atlanta Public Schools, her pilot school being a school-based rooftop gardening program that has garnered local and national press coverage, as well as numerous grants and awards. You may recognize Jenna’s name, as she was our keynote speaker last year. She had to breeze in and out, but left everyone wanting to know more. We’re excited that she’ll be back wearing her “Life Lab” hat this year.


LUNCH will be provided both days, along with awesome door prizes supplied by generous sponsors.

If you have questions, please reach out to Amy Bowman,, or Doug Vernon,