Gardening with youth

submitted by Gweneth Collins

One of Chipley Garden Club’s favorite projects has always been youth gardening. For almost 40 years, members of the club have been actively involved providing horticultural experiences to the youth at Kate Smith Elementary School.

Conservatively guessing, almost 10,000 live plants have been provided to Kate Smith students. KMS students have created more than 8,000 dried and live floral designs, over 5,000 terrariums, and almost 200 dish gardens for the Washington County 4-H Youth Fair.

Vonceil Coggin

Several ladies in the club have made significant contributions. Vonceil Coggin began providing the students with lessons in dried and live floral design many years ago. She shared her skills with the children until 2015. The children used their new skills to make arrangements that were proudly entered in the youth fair.

Charlotte Sapp

In 2000 Mrs. Coggin handed the leadership reins over to Charlotte Sapp, garden club member and retired KMS teacher. With help from Linda Pigott, terrariums were added to the youth project list and the children began making their own terrariums using recycled 2-liter drink bottles. Students were encouraged to learn about birds and butterflies, and write nature poems and create art projects with plants and trees as the subject.

Linda Pigott

Early in 2009, the reins again changed hands and Linda Pigott, club member and now retired KMS teacher, led the club as they assisted students making terrariums along with the floral designs. Live plants were given out to students and dish gardens were added to the list.

Vonceil Coggin

Over the years, many others saw the importance of teaching students about nature. As one garden club member “retired”, another has stepped up to fill her shoes. Over the years club members have visited KMS and planted butterfly gardens, shared programs about recycling, birds, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, plant studies, native and poisonous plants, and even sea shells.

Charlotte Sapp

Vonceil Coggin, Charlotte Sapp and Linda Pigott are just three of the many garden club members who took time to go into our community schools and provide programs to the students. All three have all been awarded Lifetime Memberships to Florida Federation of Garden Clubs Inc. in addition to several personal awards. Due to the dedication of these ladies and other club members, Chipley Garden Club has also received several FFGC awards.

Working with youth is just one of the projects of Chipley Garden Club. If you are interested in more information or would like to attend a club meeting, please contact President Debbie Mitchell at 638-0536. The club welcomes new members at anytime during the year.

Linda Pigott