Kids learn botanically at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens |

Kids learn botanically at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Daily Staff ReportVail, CO, COlorado

VAIL Childrens sense of wonder is alive and doing quite well at the Americas highest botanical gardens.The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, in Vails Ford Park, is offering free educational programs for kids this summer aimed at inspiring in them a passion for high-altitude plants, plant health and science, and conservation.This is a service we offer to the local and tourist communities so our children can learn to appreciate the important role plants especially high-altitude plants play in our world, says Ann Kurronen, the gardens executive director.

On Wednesdays through Aug. 22, at 10:30 a.m., the organization offers Learn-N-Grow, an hour-long program for kids aged 5-10 that includes activities, storytelling and crafts. Topics range from soil science and garden insects to discovering watersheds and adopting trees.Also on Wednesdays through Aug. 1, at 1 p.m., the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offers Teens-N-Tools, a three-hour program for kids 10 to 15 years old. Topics include invasive species, water and energy use, plant health, recycling and composting.For the young children in Learn-N-Grow, we introduce the basic concepts of plant life, such as mountains making weather, snow melting into rivers and plants growing from seeds, says Nicola Ripley, the gardens director of horticulture and a member of the board of directors of the American Public Gardens Association. In Teens-N-Tools, we take it a bit further, first teaching them about a topic, then taking them into the Gardens to get involved in a service project. Its good for them; and its good for us.The classes, in their fifth year, are being taught this summer by Betty Ford Alpine Gardens interns Gina Anderson and Carrie Stinson. Other educational opportunities offered every day during throughout summer at the gardens for kids – along with their parents and teachers include:

Backyard Backpacks, based on a successful program at the Denver Botanic Gardens that provides materials for self-guided, interactive lessons on environmental themes, such as watersheds, native plants and pollinators, for kids aged 6-12. The Eagle Explorer Program, a joint effort with the Gore Range Natural Science School, the Vail Recreation District, the Holy Cross Ranger District and the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum.Weve had nothing but positive feedback from kids, and their parents, since we started these programs five years ago, says Gardens Supervisor Melissa Kirr. Every year, just like the plants in the Gardens, they grow and mature.For more information, call 476-0103 or visit

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