Nutrition Education for Underserved Youth
The Edible Academy brings hands-on gardening and nutrition education to students, teachers, and families in the Bronx and throughout New York City. In spring 2018, the Edible Academy will open a new, state-of-the-art facility which will double current capacity to reach more than 100,000 children and families each year. By learning the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and understanding how to grow and harvest their own food, students begin to take ownership over their diets. Furthermore, students learn from on-site cooking demonstrations, and Garden educators encourage healthy meal preparation at home by providing all students with take-home bilingual recipes and bags of fresh produce. As part of its commitment to increase access to fresh produce for underserved youth, Chobani Foundation is one of the companies funding the Edible Academy as it undergoes this ambitious expansion plan.
International Conservation Strategy
Garden scientists work around the globe generating original knowledge about biodiversity for the use of conservation organizations and public policy makers. They explore and protect areas as diverse as North America and the Caribbean, the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and Amazonia and the Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil. Core projects include U.S. New York City Eco Flora and Plants of America, as well as assessment and conservation projects in far flung places like the Amazon, Cuba, Myanmar, and Micronesia. At home, graduate programs train new botanists and conservationists to preserve the planet’s plant life for generations to come.
Connecting Plants and People through Science
The Institute of Economic Botany (IEB) seeks to understand the relationship between plants and people in our rapidly changing world. This includes programs working with plant-based medicine, sustainable agriculture, forestry, and underserved immigrant communities. In the South Pacific, IEB scientists are discovering and preserving the biodiversity of useful plants, the indigenous knowledge of their uses, and their value to humanity. Closer to home, scientists improve healthcare for Caribbean and Latino communities in New York City by bridging the communication gap between healthcare workers and the immigrant communities they serve. This important program trains medical students and health professionals on how to become more culturally sensitive by attending to traditional health beliefs and herbal use practices in their clinical encounters. It is a recipient of a Cigna Foundation World of Difference Grant, which promotes health equity by providing resources that members of underserved demographics can use to access health services and information.
S.T.E.M Education for High School Students
NYBG’s Explainer Program exemplifies the “pipeline of science learning” at the Garden in which high school interns are trained to become science educators to youth ages 3–12. In turn, the teenage participants are mentored by NYBG graduate research assistants and staff scientists. Through this immersive program, students of all ages have the opportunity for science exploration in a natural learning environment which is often unavailable in urban school systems. American Honda Foundation is one of the companies funding the recent implementation of citizen science activities in the Explainer Program. Through this new curriculum, Explainers collect data and report on findings which are then used to inform current scientific research projects. Teenagers also have the opportunity to work alongside staff scientists in world-class Garden facilities such as the Pfizer Laboratory and the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium so that they are inspired to become more scientifically literate and environmentally conscious citizens.
Community Outreach and Teacher Training Programs
Newman’s Own Foundation, together with the Garden, supports the Edible Academy, which seeks to change people’s lives through gardening and good nutrition. The Edible Academy trains teachers and community members to create urban gardens, setting the groundwork for lifelong eating patterns and a healthful lifestyle.
Promoting Sustainability Through Conservation Initiatives
NYBG has enacted an organization-wide Sustainability and Climate Change Program that focuses on reducing the institution’s carbon footprint, educating the public on environmental issues, and investing resources in new infrastructure that reduces adverse effects to the environment. The Bronx, and NYBG in particular, has combined storm and sewer connections that directly release overflow sewage into the Bronx River—New York City’s only fresh water river that flows to the Sound. To manage this challenge, RBC’s Blue Water Project is one of the companies funding Garden projects that mitigate damage from storm water runoff; improve habitat for native flora, fauna, and animal species; and educate the public on urban clean water management. RBC employees from the New York office have also volunteered their time to clean-up along the Bronx River.
Saving the Plants of the World through Digital Technology: World Flora Online
In response to the global biodiversity crisis, in which an estimated 20 percent of all plant species are at risk of extinction, The New York Botanical Garden and its collaborators are creating the World Flora Online (WFO) project to provide open-source access to a list of all the known world’s flora (350,000 species). WFO is nothing short of transformational, the only definitive online resource documenting all known plants of the world. It provides one-stop searching with verified information, new data and images, and links to plant database and catalog websites. WFO will update and improve all plant listings on the World Wide Web and change the way we conserve the natural world by significantly enhancing and speeding our ability to do so. The project acts on the challenge made by the international community through the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity for an “online flora of all known plants by the year 2020.” Google Inc. is one of the companies that has helped fund this ambitious project so critical to conservation world-wide.
S.T.E.M Education for School Groups: GreenSchool
GreenSchool programs offer a robust platform of classes and workshops for school groups K–8 and teachers that address responsible and sustainable stewardship of the natural world. Located inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, GreenSchool workshops begin with an inquiry-based lesson and hands-on activities and are followed by an exploration of the Conservatory, the Family Forest, and other specialty gardens located on NYBG's grounds. Students practice science inquiry and increase their content knowledge of science, the environment, and other cross-curricular concepts. Teaching methods are adapted to different learning styles and developmental needs, and are designed in accordance with the NYC Department of Education Scope and Sequence, New York State Common Core Standards, and national standards. Support from companies like Con Edison helps inspire the thousands of school children who visit the Garden to learn about plant science and explore the natural world in a safe outdoor environment.