Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth

Worksite Location
Ithaca NY and five regions of NY State
Faculty Sponsor
Nancy Wells, Associate Professor, Design & Environmental Analysis
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Beth Myers, PhD student, DEA
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Gretchen Ferenz, Caroline Tse, CUCE NYC; Caroline Kiang, Suffolk County CCE; Mary Lee Bourbeau, Wayne County CCE; Amie Cressman, Monroe County CCE; Chris Logue, Schnectady County CCE; Donna Alese Cooke, Rockland County CCE; Jeanne Darling, Delaware Count
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

This project is a randomized controlled trial that examines the influence of school gardens on children's health and healthy behaviors, including fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity. The focus is children in grades 2, 4, 5. Approximately 50 schools in four states (NY, IA, WA, AR) were randomly assigned to either a) the garden group, where gardens began in Spring 2012; or b) the waitlist control group, where gardens will begin in Spring 2013. Measures include surveys administered to children; photographs taken of lunch trays; and, in NY State only, accelerometers (similar to pedometers) to measure physical activity as well as direct observation. We will also conduct a supplementary study to examine the influence of various outdoor play spaces (including the Ithaca Children's Garden) on children's physical activity and movement.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will assist with data analysis and manuscript writing in preparation for the dissemination of findings from the school garden study. In addition, the intern will assist with data collection at the Ithaca Children's Garden. The intern will work on a team with Professor Wells, doctoral student Beth Myers, and other (graduate and/or undergraduate) students.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full time CHE freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.
Due to the multi-faceted nature of the project, students might come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. An interest in environmental influences on children's obesity is critical. Experience with data collection, writing literature reviews and conducting data analysis with SPSS software are strongly preferred. Prior coursework in Nutrition; Design & Environmental Analysis and/or Human Development would also be an asset.

Benefits and Skills

The intern will gain experience and a wide variety of skills related to the design, planning and orchestration of a research study; hands-on data collection using multiple innovative methodologies; data entry, organization & management; literature review; and membership in a dynamic, energetic team.