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Nutrition and Garden Instructor high fiving students in outdoors classroom for TX Sprouts

SproUTing Teachers is bringing their classrooms outdoors with sustainable school gardening

UT Austin researchers are empowering Austin-area school teachers with the tools they need to bring school gardening into their curriculum.

Following the success of the TX Sprouts program, the researchers behind TX Sprouts created SproUTing teachers to help develop best-practices for building and sustaining school garden use in an elementary school setting by directly working with teachers. With funding from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, the TX Sprouts team is scaling the original study's impact and findings to the Greater Austin community.

SproUTing Teachers focuses on:

  • school garden oversight and sustainability practices
  • teacher training to integrate outdoor garden experiences into classroom curriculum
  • staff and community training for broader use of garden spaces

Seven-hundred-fifty kids and counting

Since 2017, the SproUTing Teachers program has worked in 20 schools across 8 school districts in the Greater Austin area, with over 120 school teachers and administrators. The program facilitates all-staff trainings where schools can learn to improve their school garden program. Teachers in any grade level or specialization can participate. In all, SproUTing Teachers has impacted over 750 students.

What have participating teachers said?

In the 2019-2020 school year, SproUTing Teachers showed how the program produced positive outcomes and experiences among participating teachers:

  • Confidence in using an outdoor learning area more than doubled
  • Confidence in finding lessons to use in the outdoor classroom increased 4-fold 
  • Confidence in modifying a lesson to use outdoors increased 3-fold
  • Confidence in planting with students more than doubled 
  • Confidence in using garden tools and supplies with students more than doubled 

Teachers participating in SproUTing Teachers have said: 

  • "Very one on one, very helpful and hands-on!"
  • "The transition from planning to observing to teaching lessons was very helpful."
  • "The one on one planning time was very helpful in creating lessons that tied into the curriculum perfectly."
  • "I thought it was great having the time to talk about possible challenges and what we could do to make the lessons go as smoothly as possible."

So far, SproUTing Teachers has been a successful collaboration between UT Austin and Austin-area schools, with students and teachers’ needs being top of mind. The program is an ongoing effort—read more about how school gardening is improving kids’ health. 

Published on July 27, 2020 in What's Fresh