There’s nothing better than seeing beautiful flowers grown in gardens during the summer! Well maybe there is something better…like receiving a floral arrangement of homegrown flowers. Burleigh County residents in nursing homes, assistant living, and hospitals have been receiving gladiolus and zinnia arrangements grown and arranged by at-risk youth.
This summer Burleigh County Extension took a Junior Master Gardener program in a different direction. Burleigh County Extension partnered again with Doug Sailer, Juvenile Court Officer II, South Central Judicial District along with a new partner, Hirsch Floral. In March, Burleigh County Extension received a Junior Master Gardener grant from NDSU Extension. With the grant, Burleigh County Extension was able to purchase seeds and bulbs, vases, ribbon, and floral accessories.
Burleigh County Extension has been working with Doug Sailer the past few summers as a site for community service for at-risk youth. Each summer the at-risk youth, who are court ordered to serve community service, have grown vegetables and donated the produce to local food banks. This year, the at-risk youth were able still grow some vegetables, but their main focus of the garden was flowers. This community service opportunity had the main objective of giving back to the community in a way that would brighten a person’s day and empower the at-risk youth.
The at-risk youth take pride in keeping the garden weed-free and ownership of their garden. They learn life skills that they can use in adulthood and teach their families. It has been stated by the youth that this is their favorite community service option as well.
Doug Sailer stated, “A meaningful community service project like the gardens has provided powerful skills to our local juveniles, specifically: education on gardening, work ethic, giving to others, and building positive relationships in the community. These skills provide our kids with an increase in self-esteem and that itself leads our kids to make better choices in our community. We are thankful for this opportunity as this project is a great therapeutic intervention for our juveniles.”