Danelle Cutting: How do you get millenials into nature?

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Being an Extension agent can be tough but rewarding. Every day is different, and you are never stuck at a desk.

I started off my work week at the State Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association Conference — say that 10 times fast. Each year, this conference comes around and helps educate our volunteers. It is also one of the only trainings I get as a horticulture agent.

This year we had some wonderful speakers that discussed our new manual, pollinator gardens, native plants and historical landscapes.

I was even able to meet­­ Paul James from HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard,” which was an all-time favorite of mine that I used to watch with my mother. During his talk, we discussed his TV series, passions and challenges.

I think everyone wanted to know if we would ever get to see his charming self on television again. Unfortunately, he does not have any television productions in the future, but he definitely has some landscaping projects at home that we were all fascinated about.

He even enlightened us on his conifer garden project and how much he enjoyed his vegetable garden. James also shared about one of his biggest challenges, getting the millennials interested in gardening.

Hearing that and noticing that I am a Millennial, I realized that we do have a huge issue with getting youth interested in gardening or even learning how to grow anything.

In one of the sessions, the local extension agents were introducing themselves.

One of the ways to get to know each other was to tell why we had gone into horticulture. My reason was because of my grandparents, mother and stepfather being so passionate about gardening and farming.

Then, that made me think that most of our youth are not getting that experience. They are having what some authors are deeming, “nature deficit disorder.” I am starting to think they are right.

So, how do we encourage millennials to garden and get in touch with nature? How can we encourage them to get educated? Is it through our school gardens? I sure hope so since that is a huge component of my program.

What about social media? Yep, we have Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. What else is there to do?

I hate to say it, but I am a Millennial and do not have a clue. But maybe you have some ideas. If so, I would be glad to hear them. I would love to help my generation get back in touch with nature and cure them of Nature Deficit Disorder, wouldn’t you?

If you would like more information on gardening, youth gardening, the Extension Master Gardener program, or you have some ideas on how to reach millennials, please call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.