Compassion Fatigue and Compassion Satisfaction

Virtual Handout on Compassion Fatigue and Compassion Satisfaction.

  • Define burnout, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction
  • Review researched recommendations
  • Practice a few short exercises
  • Set a personal intention related to compassion satisfaction

Questions? Contact Patrice


References (including previous resources listed above):

Bergstrom, C. (2017) Three senses mindfulness activity for kids, teens, and grown ups. Blissful Kids.

Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. (2021).

Coping with COVID: Lesson Plans to Promote Mental, Emotional and Social Health (MESH). (2020). Ohio State University. 4-H Healthy Living Design Team.

Coyne LW, Gould ER, Grimaldi M, Wilson KG, Baffuto G, Biglan A. (2020) First Things First: Parent Psychological Flexibility and Self-Compassion During COVID19

Golden, A. (2021). Supporting Yourself in Uncertain Times Webinar. Bright Horizons.

Kent, C. (2016). 10 ways to survive what you can’t control: As more stresses originate beyond our reach, being a physician is more challenging than ever. Review of Ophthalmology.

Kraynak, A. (2020). Compassion fatigue in the time of COVID. Network, 33(4), p4-5.

Kumar, A., Killingsworth, M., and Gilovich, T. (2014, August 21). Waiting for merlot: Anticipatory consumption of experiential and material purchases. Psychological Science.

Manage stress: Strengthen your support network. (2019) American Psychological Association.

Marrison, E. (2019). My future self. Live Healthy Live Well. Ohio State University.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.)  Job burnout: How to spot it and take action

Neupert, S. (2020). Knowledge is power: learning more about COVID-19 can reduce your pandemic stress. North Carolina State University.

Polk, M.G., Smith, E.L., Zhang, L.-R., & Neupert, S.D. (2020). Thinking ahead and staying in the present: Implications for reactivity to daily stressors. Personality and Individual Differences.

Powers-Barker, P., Carter, S., Worthington, T. (2019). Mindful Wellness. Ohio State University.

Powers-Barker, P. (2021). What’s wrong with positivity. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Ohio State University.

The Importance of Having a Support System. (2020). Mental Health First Aid, News, Self-Care.

Tips for Disaster Responders: Understanding Compassion Fatigue. (2014). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). HHS Publication No. SMA-14-4869.

The November 5, 2021 Zoom session for OSU Extension colleagues also shared the following:


Adapting to Life Transitions

There’s a Bend in the Road: Adapting to Life Transitions was offered in March 2023 through The Stay Calm and Well Webinar Series brought to you by the Office of the Chief Wellness Officer in partnership with Ohio State Extension. This is the second year of Hopes, Dreams and Connection in Spring 2023. We will talk about:

  • Be in the moment
  • Practice self-care and self-compassion
  • Connect with others
  • Be kind to your future self
  • Use your resources

This virtual program used updated materials from a previous lesson titled Taming Transitions. All of the references can be found here as well as links mentioned in the session.  Links from March 2023 session:


More details including a recording of the session can be found at: Recorded Webinars | A Year of Hope, Dreams and Connection Part II (


From 2021: Thank you for attending the virtual Taming Transitions lunch and learn. Resources and links listed below. If you enjoyed this lunch and learn, you might be interested in:

Taming Transitions Lesson Description: On March 25th, 2020, Dave Hollis suggested, “in the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to”. Now, a year later, as COVID-19 vaccinations are slowly becoming available, it is  still a valid question and it might be hard to define “normal”. Ohio State University Extension invites you to take some time to consider your goals, reduce stress and make plans for a successful transition into your idea of “normal”.

Presented March 25, 2021, by: Patrice Powers-Barker from and Emily Marrison from




Coyne L., Gould E., Grimaldi M., Wilson K., Baffuto G., and Biglan A. (2020). First Things First: Parent Psychological Flexibility and Self-Compassion During COVID-19.

Kumar, A., Killingsworth, M., and Gilovich, T. (2014, August 21). Waiting for merlot: Anticipatory consumption of experiential and material purchases. Psychological Science.

Lieberman, M., Eisenberger, N., Crockett, M., Tom, S., Pfeifer, S., and Way, B. (2007). Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity in response to affective stimuli. Psychological Science.

Neff, K., Rude, S., & Kirkpatrick, K. (2007). An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality. Volume 41: 908-916.

Neupert, S. (2020). Knowledge is power: learning more about COVID-19 can reduce your pandemic stress. North Carolina State University.

Neupert, S. (2020) Quiz: Pandemic stressbusters. Accolades Magazine. North Carolina State University.

Pearman, A.,  Hughes, M.,  Smith, E.,  Neupert, S. (2021). Age differences in risk and resilience factors in COVID-19 related stress. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 76, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages e38–e44.

Polk, M.G., Smith, E.L., Zhang, L.-R., & Neupert, S.D. (2020). Thinking ahead and staying in the present: Implications for reactivity to daily stressors. Personality and Individual Differences.

Praharso, N., Tear, M/, Cruwys, T. (2017). Stressful life transitions and wellbeing: A comparison of the stress buffering hypothesis and the social identity model of identity change. Psychiatry Research. Volume 247: 265-275

Flower Power 2020

Experienced vegetable gardeners who start their own seeds indoors plant in February, depending on the type of plant. Depending on the gardener’s space and needs, they very likely may not use all of the seeds in the packet. What to do with the extra seeds? Some seeds can be saved for a few years, under ideal conditions. Early this spring, when Ohio started practicing social distancing, my friend shared that she had delivered extra seeds to her community’s little free library. What a great idea!

Here’s a springtime tip for novice gardeners. You are NOT behind schedule if you did not start your own seetomato seedlingsdlings months ago. We are so fortunate to have farmers and greenhouses in the area that can sell us beautiful seedlings for herbs, tomatoes, peppers, greens, etc. now that it is time to plant outside because the threat of frost is over. This year, because of the stay-at-home orders, I did start my own tomato seeds indoors. It is pretty exciting how a tiny little seed sprouts underground, in the dark and then grows into a plant. It’s almost like magic but it’s science!

This year I’m following my friend’s lead to share some seeds. In my example, it will be flower seeds. While respecting social distancing, I’m going to distribute some extra seeds from my seed packets.  There’s no way I would ever use the hundreds of seeds in a packet in my small growing space.  Just in case you don’t find any seeds at your neighborhood little free library, you should be able to find these seed packets at most local grocery or hardware stores that sell seeds. The following flowers are all bright, beautiful, and fairly easy to grow. Most of them are edible and most of them can grow in a container, a corner of the vegetable garden, or landscaped area of the yard. Below are photos and a link to an Extension document that will give more details on each plant.

  • Calendula is also known as a Pot Marigold. It can grow in the ground or a container. The leaves are edible. You can sprinkle the petals on top of your favorite food dishes.




  • Nasturtium the leaves and flowers add a peppery taste to your dish. They can be tossed in with salads. I think the plant is a little wild and whimsical.



  • Sunflowers come in all varieties. The most common packets of sunflower seeds at the store are for the large ones. If you have a packet of seeds for any tall or Mammoth sunflowers, these will not grow well in a container. For a container plant, you’ll need to look for dwarf varieties (although these are not as common at the stores. I’ve ordered my seeds online before). Obviously the seeds are edible for people and also well-loved by wildlife.

  • The Zinnia is not edible but it packs a punch in a homegrown bouquet. One year, my son came home from school with a cup of soil and a small plant. Somewhere between his lesson and home, either the label was lost or he forgot what they planted in class. Without knowing what it was, we transplanted it from the cup into the side yard and waited to see what it was. The tall pink zinnia plant is such a happy memory for me that I love to plant them now every year.

Since most young children were not in school at the end of this year and didn’t arrive home with an unlabeled seedling, I’m going to try to get seeds to children in my little corner of the world. I’d love to hear your garden plans and see photos this summer! Feel free to email or follow our county office on Facebook at The Ohio State University Extension Lucas County.  Happy Spring!




An Introduction to Seed Saving for the Home Gardener

Edible Flowers

Growing Sunflowers in the Home Garden

How to Grow Calendula

Little Free Library


Planning for the Garden


Ten Tips for Gardening with Children

  1. Start small. It’s OK to dream big and start small. Whether you grow in containers, in a school or community garden or in your front or back yard, make the best choices for you and your family’s growing space, interest and goals.
  2. Learn about plants. If you are new to gardening, or it’s been a few years, review some basic plant science. At the very minimum, all plants need light (sun), water (approximately an inch a week from rain or supplied by the gardener) and nutrients (from a healthy soil). For your benefit, learn about the plants you would like to grow, including knowing potential challenges and possible solutions. Know your local resources like the Horticulture Hotline for Lucas County. Keep safety in mind. This is always important but especially with young children who are inclined to “explore” by putting things in their mouth.
  1. Keep it simple! You don’t have to be an expert on gardening. Just like doing other new things with children, you get to learn together. If they have a question, talk it through and discover the answer. Use the resources listed above, children’s books and youth garden websites
  2. Decide on plants. What plants to grow? Gardens are as diverse as the people who grow them! You can grow whatever will work in your space and your kitchen. When gardening with youth, consider growing some radishes, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes and mini-gourds. Why? Radishes grow fast. Even if you or your kiddos don’t love radishes, they are one of the first vegetables to harvest. Sunflowers are bright and tall (or chose a small variety for smaller spaces) and edible! Miniatures like cherry tomatoes (for an easy snack) and mini-gourds (for fall decoration and crafts) are fun because they grow plentiful and are just the right size for smaller hands.
  3. Up-cycle household items for garden tools and supplies. Use kid-sized tools for planting and digging. Even spoons will work well when held in small hands. Before sending common household items to the recycling center, consider up-cycling them into garden tools. An empty milk jug can become a watering can or cut into a scoop for garden soil. Plastic knives can be used as plant labels and stuck in the ground.
  4. Keep chore time short. Make a game of weeding, or limit to five minutes. Watering (or water play) is usually the fun part of gardening, especially in the hot summer!
  5. Let them play. Follow their lead. If they’d rather play in the soil or look at bugs than pull weeds, it’s OK. They are still learning while playing.
  6. Let them have growing space. Give children their own spot or container to garden and let them grow their own way. A preschooler may want to plant and re-plant, dig and explore similar to a sandbox. Include containers with pebbles, sticks, seeds, small tools, and other garden-related items to explore. Set up a Mud Kitchen with bowls, buckets and plastic kitchen tools. For elementary-aged children, take a 4-H garden project or use a small space to create a miniature garden such as fairy garden or dinosaur garden.  In large garden spaces, create a play space by planting a Sunflower House and Beanpole Tepee. It is helpful to mulch wide paths to define the walking and playing space from the garden growing area. Add benches or straw bales for seating.
  7. Enjoy! Enjoy yourself and your fresh produce. It’s a great time to explore and learn together, reconnect with nature, observe daily changes and growth and prepare new recipes.
  8. Share your garden story and share your extra produce. Use social media to post your garden pictures, sneak a zucchini on your neighbor’s porch on August 8th and consider donating extra produce to a local emergency food pantry.


From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone

3 circles to demonstrate 3 zones

From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone was presented by two Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County  and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County on Wednesday October 23, 2019 at the 2019 Family and Consumer Sciences Annual Conference.  The theme of the two-day conference was Growing Our Comfort Zone. The goals for the annual FCS conference:

  • Enhanced ability to create meaningful connections and relationships that enable strong internal and external collaborations
  • Clarify and strengthen our roles within Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Find new ways to relate and adapt to diverse audiences
  • Identify and examine what you would define as your comfort zone and determine ways of reaching outside that zone

The goals From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone lunchtime group activity focused on identifying and examining personal definitions of comfort zones in a non-judgmental way. Comfort zones are not good or bad. After identifying some personal zones, colleagues were encouraged to envision ways to help others when they are making the stretch to grow from the comfort zone to a growth zone.

This activity was inspired by the group training offered by Scott VanderWey, Associate Professor and Director, 4-H Adventure, Washington State University Extension. He presented in Fulton County Ohio in the summer of 2019. He shared a wide variety of resources including the workbook, Building Successful Learning Communities, Educator’s Handbook, 2019, Washington State University Extension. The information on comfort zones is on page nineteen of the handbook.

This link outlines the 4-H Challenge Model including the previously quote on “comfort and growth circles” and the simple theories of education: Adventure-Based Learning, Experiential Education, Full Value Contact, Comfort & Growth Circles and Challenge by Choice. In addition, this blog notes Challenge by Choice as one of the five elements of Brave Space. The goal of Brave Space is to create a supportive environment for all members to participate in dialogue.

Live Smart Ohio Blogs:


4-H challenge model. Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from

Ali, D. (2017). Safe spaces and brave spaces: Historical context and recommendations for students affairs professionals. NASPA Policy and Practice Series. Issue 2. Retrieved from:

Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.). The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: Stylus. Retrieved from:

Building successful learning communities, Educator’s handbook (2019). Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from

Franc Cyr, L. (2004). Bulletin #6103, Effective Communication, GroupWorks: Getting things done in groups. University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from

Naden, Y., & Stark, M. (2017). The pedagogy of discomfort: Enhancing reflectivity on stereotypes and bias. British Journal of Social Work, 47 (3). Retrieved from

Navigating for Success Lesson 1: Getting acquainted and facilitating learning (2017). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

Seery, M. D., Holman, E. A., & Cohen Silver, R. (2010). Whatever does not kill us; cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99,6. 1025-1041

Torretta, A., & VanderWey, S. (2019). Creating group norms by using full value commitments in experiential education programming. Journal of Extension, 57 (3), 3TOT8. Available at

Treber, M. (2015).  Are there connections between stress and your heart health? The Ohio State University, Live Smart Ohio Blog. Retrieved from

Tugend, A. (2011). Tiptoeing out of one’s comfort zone (and of course, back in). New York Times. Retrieved from

White, A. (2009). From comfort zone to performance management. Understanding development and performance. Retrieved from

Zembylas, M., (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: The tensions of ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and Education 10 (2):163-174.

Extension Educators Partnering with Local FCS Teachers

In Ohio, OSU Extension work is divided by counties across the state. There is not necessarily an FCS Educator in every county. In an attempt to build a stronger working relationship between FCS Extension staff and FCS teachers, this post will “collect” ideas, suggestions and ways to continue to connect and strengthen our work in the community.

2019 Contacts:  Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County 

photo of hear and connecting with "heart and soul" of FCS, the teachers


The current team of FCS Extension Educators in Northwest Ohio designed presentations to share “about” and “how to” organize an annual one day FCS Teacher In-Service. The 2019 team would like to acknowledge and thank all of the former FCS Extension colleagues who started the educational event and kept it going for over 20 years. We think the work they started is worth continuing and worth sharing with newer staff and colleagues.

Previous Presentations and Resources:

  • Ignite presentation at 2019 annual OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences conference on Extension Educators Host Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher In-Service Day, Thursday October 24, 2019.  Coming Soon: Ignite PowerPoint
  • NEAFCS (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) annual session 2019 presentation link. 

February is Family Life Education Month

hearts family life educationAs a member of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) I celebrate February as Family Life Education Month. I am fortunate to serve on the NCFR affiliate board, the Ohio Council on Family Relations (OHCFR). Last year (February 2018) I was highlighted as a board member and asked to share my Family Life Education story. Below is a copy of the interview.

Happy New Year! To kick off 2018’s Meet-the-Board series, let’s get to know Board Member Patrice Powers-Barker, Certified Family Life Educator and Ohio State University Extension Educator. Read on to hear how her strengths in work and family intertwine and build on each other!

On studies:
“I don’t think I fell into family sciences (studies and work) by accident but the steps to my current position in Family Consumer Sciences meandered. For my Bachelor of Arts, I studied Social Justice at Hiram College. My interdisciplinary major included classes in a variety of departments including Communications, Religion, Education and Sociology. It wasn’t until years later, as I was working full-time and raising a family that I landed in Family Life Education at Spring Arbor University for my Master of Arts. It was during that time I learned about the National Council for Family Relations (NCFR) and Certified Family Life Education (CFLE).”

On career:
“When I started working for Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County (Toledo, OH), I didn’t expect that it would be my place of employment for almost two decades! I currently serve as an Extension Educator in Family and Consumer Sciences. I love this quote by Ruby Green Smith as she described home economics in the 1940s; ‘this is ‘where science and art meet life and practice’. I am privileged to serve families in Lucas County and in the state of Ohio. I love that my work is practical, educational, interdisciplinary and rooted in science.”(To learn more about Lucas County Extension, visit

On family:
“I am the granddaughter of farmers and immigrants. I am the daughter of educators and community volunteers. I met my husband and two daughters at a community garden. We married seventeen years ago and within the last five years our family has added three boys: a son, a son-in-law and a grandson. I share my family story here because they taught me about families long before I knew there was an academic program for it! Just like every family, we’ve had our ups and downs. As an adult, a couple personal messages have kept me anchored during the rough times. ‘This is family, this is holy’ was a very clear message that came to me during a particularly hard time. It reassured me that we were in it together – and that things could be good even as they were challenging and imperfect. Another was a conversation I had with my (step) daughter during her teenage years: ‘aren’t we lucky? We can define this relationship of family in whatever way we want.’ I don’t necessarily share those specific quotes when I’m at work, but they summarize my values. My career allows me to educate and encourage others to identify their own struggles and solutions in order to build strong, healthy families.”

“Like my day-to-day work, I hope that what I bring to the OHCFR board is practical, educational, interdisciplinary and rooted in science. I am proud of two infographics that a team created in an effort to help make the Family Life Education (FLE) Framework approachable and easy to access for students as well as professionals. The infographics are designed to complement, not replace the NCFR FLE Framework materials. In a similar way to the team that designed the infographics, the OHCFR board is a collaborative, hard-working group of people who are really enjoyable to work with!” (Check out Patrice’s webinar from last year’s Family Life Education Month:

On life outside of work:
“Is it funny that in this type of work, I continue to think and ‘work’ on similar topics during my free time? I like to read about families, practice mindfulness, dig in the garden, try new recipes and spend time with my family. We like being outdoors, whether it’s camping at state parks or visiting the playgrounds and paths at our local metroparks or state park on the Maumee River and Lake Erie. Here’s my shameless plug for Toledo/Lucas County: In my family’s free time we have so many awesome opportunities right in our own community that we try to take advantage of (and not take for granted) all the local benefits. If you have never been to Northwest Ohio, consider a day/weekend trip. If you want any recommendations for family activities, send me a message!”

Thank you for your input on two new Family Life Education Infographics

If you have completed the online survey to share your thoughts on the infographics – Thank You!

The Family Life Education (FLE) Framework has successfully guided program development, delivery, and assessment. In an effort to help make the FLE Framework approachable for students and professionals, a team of Certified Family Life Education (CFLE) practitioners have designed two infographics. The goal is to share the value and content of the conceptual model in a way that FLE students and professionals can easily access, view, and implement FLE methodology in their classroom assignments. These infographics are designed to complement, not replace the National Council on Family Relations’ current FLE Framework materials.

Click on the links below for a full size view of the two Infographics

Family Life Education Framework Infographic





The FLE PLanning Wheel

The Planning Wheel photo










Fall 2016: We are looking for people in the field of FLE (including students) to view and respond to two new infographics. The online response/survey should take less than five minutes to complete. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts, please email Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences at for a link to the online survey.






Lucas County Celebrates The International Year of the Pulses


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named 2016 as The Year of the Pulses. Key Messages:

  • Pulses are highly nutritious
  • Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels
  • Pulses have important health benefits
  • Pulses foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Pulses promote biodiversity

Great! Right? Do you know what a pulse is? (We’re talking about a food, not the heart rate). Even if you’ve never used the title “pulse” before, you are probably familiar with dried beans, peas and lentils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shares a one page Surprising Facts About Pulses You Might Not Know

So, how and why do we celebrate this #IYP2016 in our Northwest Ohio county? Although there might not currently be a lot of pulses grown in our county, they can grow here. From a community nutrition point of view, we value the nutrition, health benefits, accessibility and affordability of pulses. From an agriculture point of view, they promote biodiversity and from a social point of view, the diversity of pulses and recipes make them a valuable food item to many individuals and families.

To promote the value of pulses in our community we used the following poster about pulses in 2016: Pulse Poster, Lucas County

pulse Lucas Co 2016

We are so appreciative of our Master Gardener Volunteers! This summer they staffed the “pulse guessing game” at the Lucas County Fair and they featured pulses at their annual picnic. Can you guess the pulses in this picture?

guess the pulses game

For those interested in learning more about cooking with pulses, including the steps to take from dry seed to final product, a really helpful recipe book used by our Lucas County SNAP-Ed program is titled, The Bold and Beautiful Book of Bean Recipes by the Washington State Department of Health. The recipes are easy, tasty, healthy and low-cost!

2016 articles written by Ohio State University Extension professionals:

International Year of What? by Jenny Lobb, January 28, 2016

From International Celebration to Personal Favorites by Patrice Powers-Barker, February 16, 2016

Do You Eat Pulses? by Patrice Powers-Barker, The Sojourners Truth Newspaper, volume 37, no 1 (page 7)

Our “Maybe” Family Garden

Updated Spring 2021.

Not surprisingly, gardening was a popular activity in 2020. Here’s to another good growing year.

The Theme Garden handout (with links to additional resources) has been updated for 2021. Please use this as a starting point to dream about your “maybe garden”.

From Spring 2020:

  • With Ohio’s Stay-at-Home to help flatten the curve of COVID-19, gardening is a good activity to get outside, learn from nature, and enjoy fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits.
  • As of April 2020, OSU Extension will not be scheduling any face-to-face classes until after July 6th. We are working and want to meet the needs of our community members. Many options have moved online and to phone calls and conversations.

Summary of what’s the same for my household in 2020 compared to 2015: it has to be low-maintenance, low-cost and high-impact. In addition, as part of the stay-at-home order, we’re trying to follow the three Rs:

  • Reduce trips to the store. The good news is that many larger grocery stores sell vegetable seeds in addition to fresh produce. One way to reduce our trips is to keep a detailed grocery shopping list so we can purchase what we need while shopping less frequently. One other way is to …
  • Reuse what we already have. We are fortunate that gardening is not a brand new hobby so we have some basic tools, seeds from the spring Toledo GROWs Seed Swap and we started a compost pile last year.
  • Recycle. We’re viewing our spring recycle bin in a new way. Are there items that we would normally send straight to the recycle station that we can use in a new way? We are careful to keep just a few items but some examples are cardboard egg cartons, plastic milk jugs and cardboard boxes. They will come in handy to start seeds, protect small seedlings from a late frost and help mulch pathways.

2015 Maybe Garden

Earlier this year Family and Consumer Sciences Extension staff promoted the Manage Your Money online challenge.  I wrote “Why I Am Bringing Work Home” to show how I value FCS programming professionally as well as personally.

The “Maybe” Family Garden program, in addition to some of my current backyard dreams are inspired by the book The Maybe GardenThe Maybe Garden was written by Kimberly Burke-Weiner and illustrated by Frederika P. Spillman. The book cover describes, “A beautiful, poetic story about a young child’s quest to become an independent and creative thinker. The child uses Mother’s ordinary suggestions for a garden as a springboard for unique and original ideas. Through the child’s creativity, the spirit of the rest of the neighborhood is also sparked and the magic blooms in other gardens as well”.

Gardening is a great activity for all ages. Gardens can be simple or elaborate – choose the best options for your interest, time and space. Looking for Theme Garden Idea Starters? In this list, some of the gardens have edible plants, some focus on learning; some are for beautification and most are for sharing. What will you grow? Theme Garden handout 2015

For ideas on gardening with youth, read the Garden Ideas for Kids, Parents and Teachers from the National Gardening Association. For tips on planning the family garden, click here Planning Garden 2015 (2020 note: horticulture hotline information might be outdated)

Spring cleaning in a drizzle. Leaf covered herb spiral in foreground.

Spring cleaning in a drizzle, 2015.  Leaf covered herb spiral in foreground.

On the first full day of spring 2015, I spent some time with my family in the yard pulling out some toys that were in storage and raking some wayward autumn leaves.  Although we’re not far into the steps of “turning family dreams into reality” in regards to our backyard plans, we did start discussing and mapping out some future projects.  For a new project to work in our urban backyard (with two full-time working adults) it has to be low-maintenance, low-cost and high-impact.  I’m posting this “before” picture with some apprehension.  Basically, the “before” indicates there will be an “after” and as a family we haven’t set SMART goals for this “maybe” garden space yet. (2020 update – we did enjoy a mud-kitchen for play and new perennials but I did not post an “after” picture)

Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County offered a lesson titled The Maybe (Family) Garden. This class will be offered in partnership with the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio. Not only does the 577 Foundation offer excellent classes for all ages on all topics, they are also a free community resource (although there is a cost for classes) with too many opportunities, activities and tours to list in this paragraph.  The Maybe Garden will be offered on May 3, 2015 for adults and their children in grades two through five.  Please register with the 577 Foundation.