Emily S – Executive Director

Rachel Carson said that, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Nowhere are the “wonders of the universe” more apparent to me than in the natural world.

Growing up in a rural farming community in New Hampshire, my summers involved building forts in the woods, growing giant pumpkins for the local fair, and eating raspberries until my fingers were stained.

This unrestricted access to the outdoors shaped who I would become. And it has influenced my ideas for the kinds of childhood experiences I will provide for my own young son. Most children in the United States, however, are not so fortunate. They lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces in which to learn, grow, and thrive.

This is why I am delighted to join the dedicated staff and board at to work with all of KidsGardening's partners locally and nationally to get more kids outdoors and learning through the garden.

There is an increasing amount of data that points to the profound impact that time in nature can have on children—both in terms of their ability to learn and their mental and physical health. Add to this the learning experience of nurturing a growing plant and connecting to one’s food, and through gardening programs we are delivering a wealth of benefits to our littlest citizens.

Reading through grant applications from some of the many educators we help fund, I am heartened by the passion and creativity of the women and men teaching our nation’s children. Proposals for garden programs range from medicine wheel gardens on Navajo reservations, to rooftop gardens for fresh local produce in urban food deserts, to therapy gardens for at-risk youth. We wish we could fund every one of them!

These educators, who work firsthand with children every day, experience the benefits that learning gardens have on children. According to developmental psychologist, Gabrielle Principe, author of Your Brain on Childhood, in order to “capitalize on the way the human brain was meant to grow, we have to redesign children’s environments…and naturalize childhood again.”

My vision is a nation where every child has the opportunity to experience the wonder, serenity, and joy of nature through gardening.

About the Author:

Emily Shipman joined as Executive Director in September 2016.

Emily brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to the position. Her past work has bridged many integrated areas, including community development, food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and food systems, and economic development.

Before coming to, Emily was program director at the Sustainable Food Lab, a global network of organizations facilitating market-based change for a sustainable food system. While there she worked with multinational food and beverage companies to bring more development benefits to smallholder farmers through sustainable trade. Emily holds a B.S. in Public Policy and Anthropology from Hobart and William Smith College and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Marlboro College Graduate School.

Whether working with companies to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the developing world, raising funds to ensure Vermont families do not go hungry, or organizing a local farmer’s market, Emily has always kept food and agriculture close to her heart.



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