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What is Youth Voices?

In 2009, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum inaugurated the Youth Voices Conference program - the first of its kind in the nation. This conference was planned and led by past youth participants in our urban garden programs, most of whom were current college students and recent graduates.

The Youth Voices Conferences are designed to bring together youth from urban garden programs around the country and exchange ideas. In addition, the conferences challenge the adults who plan and structure youth programs to include the youth voice in their planning. Youth programs do a great job of having participants evaluate their programs. The Youth Voices goal is to include this feedback in program design.

What we've done so far

We have now held three participant planned and managed conferences, which were attended by students from Cleveland Botanical Garden (Cleveland, Oh.), Wave Hill (Bronx, N.Y.), Youth Farm and Market Project, (Minneapolis, Mn.), Chicago Botanical Gardens (Chicago, Il.), The Community Design Center (Minneapolis, Mn.), and Phipps Botanical Gardens and Conservatory (Pittsburgh, Pa.) - as well as the Arboretum's own Urban Garden Youth Employment program. These young people share a wealth of information, engage with each other, and choose ideas from the many presented to incorporate into their own programs - or to eliminate. In 2011, the conference featured a working session in which participants developed grant proposals to help fund their programs.

Please join us! Cleveland, October 10-11, 2014

Youth in urban garden programs, and their adult leaders, are invited to participate in the next conference, to be held in the fall of 2014 at the Cleveland Botanic Gardens. For more information on the Youth Voices Conference hosted at the Cleveland Botanic Gardens, contact Karen DePratto at Beam0003@umn.edu or Julia Ferguson at jferguson@cbgarden.org.

youth participants 2011 YV conference

2011 Youth Voices participants. FRONT ROW: Deedra (crouching) and Stacy (seated), Arboretum's Urban Garden Youth Employment program, Minneapolis. BACK ROW: Arturo and Carlos (seated), Chicago Botanic Garden's Green Youth Farm. Cameron, Cleveland Botanical Garden's Green Corps. Shanell and Aneesa, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Jaime, Arboretum's Urban Garden Youth Employment program, Minneapolis. Jazmine and Melissa, Chicago Botanic Garden's College First program. Sherrell, Cleveland Botanical Garden's Green Corps.

Photo: Tim Kenny