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Zoo garden teaches kids about sustainability

Sam Klemet
WBAA Radio

About 200 children are participating in a summer program where they will learn about gardening and nutrition.

Those from the McAllister Center’s Day camp are spending one day a week throughout the summer working on growing vegetables and other nutritious foods at a small garden at the zoo.

Columbian Park Zoo landscaper Linda Cooper hopes the effort will help the kids embrace a more sustainable way of life.

"We have things that we are going to be weeding and some beans and small pumpkins that we are going to be planting later on," she said. "So the kids will literally see everything that goes into a garden.  A garden is a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun.”

The garden is an initiative through Intersection Connection. The program is a collaboration of local organizations aimed at youth development.

Everything grown will go to feed the animals at the zoo, which Aiden, 8,  says is the best part.

"All I ever do is just feed my parrot, so I actually get to meet more animals and actually get to pet and feed them," he said.

The program has four goals; Teaching about health, income, education, and social responsibility.

Kevin Noe is an assistant manager at the McAllister Center Day Camp.

He says the hands on experience the campers gain by working on the garden at the Columbian Park Zoo makes it easier to understand the goals.

"Throughout the course of the summer (they will) work in the garden, help tend to the garden, get the vegetables ready to feed to the animals," he said.  "Hopefully they will learn something about gardening and sustainability and protecting the environment."