2022-2023 — Debbie Fitzpatrick, Chair; Donna Karanja, Vice Chair
In fall 2023, the on-going pandemic continued to limit opportunities for our committee to work directly with children, especially indoors. We were very happy that Deron School students and staff agreed to join us on a crisp November morning for our traditional tulip planting project at Mountainside Hospital. Many thanks to Celia Radek and "May in Montclair" for once again providing the bulbs for this activity!
The rest of our activities this year have involved consulting with youth leaders to plan for the coming year. Sue Straten and Donna Karanja have been in regular contact with Watchung School teacher Drury Thorp about the progress of the school's Connected Courtyard, a project that several GCM members contributed to in prior years. Sue and Donna visited the Courtyard in April and were delighted to see the once overgrown area converted into a beautiful outdoor classroom filled with native plants, weather-proof tables and benches, and hands-on learning centers. Our committee plans to continue supporting Watchung's outdoor classroom in the coming year by suggesting learning activities and helping teachers implement them.
Donna has been talking to two local Girl Scout leaders about activities our committee could do with them. We are excited about developing these new relationships and sharing the joys of the plant world with children and their leaders.
2021-2022 — Debbie Fitzpatrick, Chair; Donna Karanja, Vice Chair
The Youth Committee's annual tulip bulb planting took place in November 2021. Students from the Deron School in Montclair helped plant tulip bulbs along with Youth Committee Members and GCM volunteers at Mountainside Hospital. In addition, students from the Community-Based Instruction (CBI) Program at Montclair High School and Club volunteers helped plant bubs at the Park Street YMCA. A special thank you to Celia Radek and "May in Montclair " for providing the bulbs!
Youth Committee Members also assisted the Garden Therapy Committee in November at the "Good Grows Here" celebration at Van Vleck House & Gardens. They helped families create crafts and seasonal, natural material centerpieces to keep and to donate to "Sharon's Harvest" Thanksgiving guests at Toni's Kitchen.
Our primary anticipated project this year was working with Watchung School to develop a landscape plan for its outdoor classroom. Watchung School received a $10,000 award from the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant Program for its Connected Courtyard Project. The school has hired a landscaper and work is scheduled to begin in late August. No further assistance is needed from the Garden Club at this time.
We had also planned to offer flower design workshops to local Scouting organizations. Activities and opportunities to work with both local schools and organizations were limited due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns this past year.
2020-2021 — Nancy Foster, Chair; Susan Straten, Vice Chair
Our annual tulip planting took place in November 2020. Traditionally, students from the Deron School help plant about 200 pink tulip bulbs in front of the Oncology Clinic at Mountainside Hospital. The students could not come this year because of COVID. Many, many thanks to Nancy Sweetser and her family who volunteered and completed the planting!
The main project this year was working with Watchung School to develop a landscape plan for an “outdoor classroom” in its courtyard. Suzy Straten, Deb Hirsch, Maureen Sprong, Sarah Olson, Barb Baletti, Claire Stepleton, and Susan Dumont met many times during the winter months with Drury Thorp and Sarah Paulsen from Watchung School to develop this plan. Cynthia Corhan-Aitken provided invaluable expertise, including landscape design and plant selection recommendations.
Watchung School received a $10,000 grant from the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant for their “Connected Courtyard” project. Additional fund-raising and implementation of the Connected Courtyard will continue next year.
We had planned to again offer flower design classes to local Girl Scout troops to provide an opportunity for participants to enter designs in the Garden Club’s Flower Show. Eight classes were scheduled to take place in the spring, but due to COVID only one workshop took place.
The goal of assessing the status of Pollinator Gardens in Montclair’s elementary schools and following up with a plan to implement them was deferred because of COVID constraints.
Thanks to our enthusiastic and determined Committee, we made it through the pandemic challenges and had a successful year!
2019-2020 — Nancy Foster, Chair; Susan Straten, Vice Chair
Nancy Sweetser again organized a very successful pink tulip bulb planting at the Oncology Center at Mountainside Hospital. On November 6, students from the Deron School enthusiastically planted over 200 bulbs.
The Youth Committee identified three projects to pursue for the year:
Develop a landscape plan for Watchung School's Courtyard that incorporates a Native American teaching garden. A group consisting of Deb Hirsch, Maureen Sprong, Sarah Olson, Barb Baletti, Claire Stepleton, and Susan Dumont met many times during the winter and, working with Drury Thorpe and Sarah Paulsen from Watchung School, developed a plan for the courtyard which features an outdoor classroom/lunch area, teaching stations and utilizes native species. A few final touches have yet to be made, but the plan has been enthusiastically received by the school and they are seeking funding to execute the plan.
Offer Flower Design classes to local Girl Scout troops and provide an opportunity for participants to enter a design in September's Flower Show. Working through the Girl Scout Council, we had 10 local troops express interest in doing a Flower Design workshop. We had eight scheduled to take place in March, April and early May. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, only one workshop took place. We will try again in the fall. Floss O'Sullivan, Susan Benner, Susan Dumont, Marilyn Zaret, Sarah Olson, and Terri Breen volunteered to run workshops
Assess the status of Pollinator Gardens in Montclair's elementary schools and follow up with a plan for schools that do not have them. This goal was also to be worked on in the ·spring and is deferred to next year.