Each summer, volunteers from junior high through high school learn communications skills, confidence, leadership, and environmental awareness while growing into their role as stewards of the natural world. They’re dubbed Macgyvers, for Morton Arboretum Children's Garden Youth Volunteers but also for an ability to ingeniously apply scientific knowledge while encouraging the connection between people and nature.
Some are Naturalist Macgyvers, who interact with families who visit the Children’s Garden and help with hands-on activities and help children learn through nature play. They might encourage a fishing game or a matching game or play with natural building blocks. Or they might play “I Spy” with the plants and other things that live in the garden.
Others are Gardening Macgyvers, who work side by side with staff planting garden beds and containers, harvesting vegetables, and caring for landscaped areas. At the same time, they learn botany, use math skills to space plants, and grasp the farm-to-table connection.
It’s all part of the Arboretum’s STEM Pathways program, designed to reinforce knowledge about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while encouraging Chicago-area teens from junior high to high school to explore careers, develop skills, and master the workplace.
Exelon is the 2013 presenting sponsor for all STEM-based education, with additional support from SunCoke Energy, The DuPage Community Foundation, and the Helen Brach Foundation. Children’s Garden drop-in education programming and family adventure programming are generously supported by Navistar.