The mission of LYG is to cultivate job and life skills, environmental stewardship and service in youth facing barriers by developing healthy relationships with people, agriculture, and community.
Loveland Youth Gardeners (LYG) was the vision of its founding director, Joanna Rago, MSW, a former Clinical Social Worker who believed that working with young people to cultivate skills and strengths through growing an organic garden would benefit youth, the environment, and the community.
Loveland Youth Gardeners was started in May 1996 as an intervention program to serve Loveland area youth with emotional and behavioral challenges. Over the last 18 years, LYG has grown to include three Youth Education Programs, as well as Educational Outreach programs which currently serve children and youth (ages 5-21).
LYG also helps to organize the Loveland Plant a Row for the Hungry program (2005), in conjunction with House of Neighborly Service and Food Bank for Larimer County to provide more than 184,000 lbs. of fresh produce for our low-income nieghbors in Loveland.
"This was my son's first year participating in Loveland Youth Gardeners. When he was younger, he participated in sports so his summers were very full. As he got older, he withdrew from these activities because he was often misunderstood by his coaches and they had no training working with children with autism. The last few summers have been very challenging. He struggles to make friendships due to his difficulties with understanding social cues, and with no organized activities that he was interested in, my son would spend his summers very isolated, mostly playing video games. When he told me he wanted to participate in this program, I was excited for him but skeptical that he would stick with it. Here we are now nearing the end of the summer and my son is still ready 45 minutes before it is time to leave, excited for his day. The transformation I have seen has been amazing. He is excited to share what he is learning, proud of the work he's done, gaining Valuable social experiences, getting fresh air, exercise, and learning skills. The best part is if you ask him, he's just having fun!" YGP Parent
"LYG helped me put my life back on the road, the program inspired me to take control of my destiny and achieve my full potential. That's the greatness of this program, it helps kids like me learn the simple lesson that they can be in control of their own lives and make something of themselves, something that they and others can take pride in....LYG cultivates kids who have faith in their own abilities, it nurtures community and it harvests great people who share their vision. I'm immensely grateful that I've had an opportunity to be a part it." Steven, Youth Gardening Program Participant
"Loveland Youth Gardeners gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business, and last summer I made my first big and successful sale to the Loveland Museum and Gallery. LYG also gave me the tools I needed in becoming assertive in making the right choices and not being bullied into dangerous situations." Daisy, Youth Gardening Program Participant
"Student participation in Loveland Youth Gardeners facilitates marked change in them. The seeds they plant have just as much to do with life as they do vegetables. I have seen students completely transform their view of themselves and their role in the world around them simply by taking part in Loveland Youth Gardeners. It is a tremendous program and we are very fortunate to have it in our community."
Kimberly A. Gardner, Mountain View High School, Affective Needs Teacher & Case Manager
"My niece has really benefited from LYG. I can't think of anything else that could have helped her more than this experience this summer. Having a student in the Youth Gardening Program has given me a whole new appreciation for LYG-thanks from the bottom of my heart!" Janet, Multi-year donor and volunteer
"The opportunity to interact with the students and other staff/volunteers/supporters made the afternoon a real treat. It only reinforced the good work you and your organization provide in enriching the lives of those who live in your community...it reinforced for us the worth of continuing our support, and perhaps in the future being volunteers. You have a dynamic and lovely group of people surrounding you, and it was a joy to meet them if even for a short time." Gerry, Multi-year investor since 2007
"LYG helped me prepare for my job by teaching me to get along with others, work with people that I don't get along with, follow instructions, and make sure that I stay focused. LYG also taught me to stay on task and not goof off or talk a lot on the job." Aaron K., YGP and Leaf Out Participant
"From the Youth Garden, I gained self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. To plant a small seed like spinach and watch it grow into a plant; it's just amazing. It makes you feel so cool! And to give the produce to families that otherwise would not have it; every child should be able to learn this lesson."
Aaron M., Youth Gardening Program Participant
"As a parent, I continue to be impressed with what is expected of the students and how they rise to the occasion... Thank you for giving my son, and all the students, the opportunities to grow - both as individuals and in the gardens. I personally believe there is something very satisfying about working in a garden and seeing the positive results of one's labor." Sarah, Mother of YGP and Leaf Out Participant