Today was Science Spectacular Day at my daughters' elementary school and I had the privilege of volunteering at one of the presentations. Two scientists from NC State University did a great job involving third graders in explorations about the properties of soil. As the students at my table sifted through a sample of the dark, rich-looking material, they exclaimed over their findings: rocks, twigs, leaves, roots, pine needles. I couldn't help but notice, though, that their biggest excitement was reserved for the living treasures that they encountered – worms, ants, beetles, and "roly-polys".
As I watched their enthusiasm, I was taken back to memories of the school garden project that I created while I was a volunteer service worker in a semi-arid region of Brazil. Although I had dabbled in gardening for years, I didn't really realize how much I loved it until I shared that joy with the middle and high school students who were a part of the project. It was hard work, but the harshness of the landscape, and the challenges we faced seemed to make the beauty of the garden all the more vivid and precious.