Ithaca Children’s Garden is an award-winning, 3-acre public children’s garden designed for kids, enjoyed by all, and driven by a mission to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.
To inspire, promote, and sustain youth and community stewardship of the natural environment through garden-based learning and discovery.
To serve as a premier destination for environmental, garden-based education for children and their caregivers in Ithaca and the Northeast.
The ICG Story
ICG has been honoring the whole child and fostering environmental stewardship since 1999. We believe the best way to do that is to get more children outside, with hands-on sensory experiences, having fun in the natural world. ICG is a place where kids can be kids and adults can feel good about it.
ICG was first organized in 1997 by Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth. They heard Jane Taylor of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden speak and were so inspired by the impact this children’s garden had, they decided that Ithaca’s children also needed a special place to explore and connect to nature designed especially for them. In 1999, ICG earned its 501(c)3 non-profit status under the direction of Founding Director Meg Cole. In 2004, a lease for 3 acres in Cass Park was secured with the City of Ithaca, and in 2005, Gaia the Turtle was built. From there the program, staff, volunteers, and Garden have grown. More than 500 community youth contributed ideas for the conceptual design, and countless youth have been involved in shaping its continued growth.
Each year ICG continues to expand the ways it meets the needs of the community while growing its regional and national impact.
ICG is committed to:
Inclusivity: Create a safe and welcoming culture that values diversity.
Children & Teens: Provide authentic opportunities for open-ended, youth-directed discovery, nature connection, play, and empowerment.
Guests: Inspire and educate all visitors through demonstration and creative interpretation in a place that is inviting, safe, vibrant, and accessible.
Innovation: Strive for new ideas, continuous improvement, positivity, and leadership in all that we do.
Sustainability: Encourage the long-term stewardship of our environment, society, and economy through hands-on experience with plants and natural ecosystems.
Community: Contribute to our local community and related fields of study including environmental education, public horticulture, youth development, and service learning.
Excellence: Insist on high quality, scientific accuracy, efficiency, and integrity in all our operations.
Partnerships: Partner with other leaders in the field and community to develop synergies & build on collective strengths.
Staff: Nurture an environment that values staff and volunteers for their talents and contributions, while providing regular opportunities for reflection, joy, and professional growth.