"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM

by The School Garden Doctor
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"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
"Dirt Girls" Can Close the Gender Gap in STEM
Dirt Girl Survival Pack
Dirt Girl Survival Pack

Dirt Girl Supporter, 

Now, more than ever, we need science that works for everyone, especially women and girls. Amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, The School Garden Doctor continued to build Dirt Girls with creative solutions to reach participating youth, engage mentor apprentices, and spread the word about this innovative program. 

Read on for more details in the the Quarterly Countdown Report below...

5 Parents Offer Vote of Support

Due to school closures, the full Winter Session was not completed. When I offered a partial refund to the paying participants' parents, all five of them opted to donate to a future Dirt Girl. At the end of the year, one mom commented, "I am so proud of the work the Dirt Girls do in the garden." 

4 Dirt Girls Go To Middle School Next Year

On June 5, I hosted a Google Meet to send off four Dirt Girls who will attend middle school next year. Three of the four girls had been in Dirt Girls since they were second graders! We looked at old photos, shared memories, and brainstormed ideas for a Dirt Girl logo. 

3 Conference Presentations Featuring Dirt Girls

On July 8-10, the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium is hosting their 28th National Event as a virtual symposium. I was invited to give three different talks. In Crowdfunding Successes and Challenges, I compare the features of five different online platforms, highlighting what made the 2019 Global Campaign a success (i.e., YOU!). Return of the Dirt Girls shares the program theory, structure, and plans for expanding. Finally, the Dirt Girls program was also included as a case of gender empowerment and equity in Lessons from the Field: Pathways for Women in Horticulture, led by my dear friend and School Garden Doctor board member, Amanda Crump. 

2 Months Focused on Reaching Dirt Girls Remotely

Throughout April and May, I sent a dozen "Dirt Girl Survival Packs" to Winter Session participants' homes. Each pack included a seed catalog, seed saving envelopes, heirloom popping corn (for snacking or saving), stickers, seeds, gloves, each girl's journal and a note reminding them to stay connected to the dirt. During shelter in place, stakeholders have been working to develop a collection of activity cards called the "Dirt Girl Deck." It will offer fun, focused, engaging ways to promote the core values of the program. 

1 Contest Winner

For Earth Day, one Dirt Girl won a $50 gift card to Tractor Supply Company to support her gardening projects at home. 

With Gratitude,

Miss Carrie, Lead Dirt Girl 

Dirt Girl Core Values Journal Reflection
Dirt Girl Core Values Journal Reflection


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laughing out loud while shucking popcorn
laughing out loud while shucking popcorn

Dear Dirt Girl Supporter, 

Thank you for your sustained interest in this project! You may have noticed the title change from "Inspire Dozens of Girls to Pursue Science Careers" to "Close the Gender Gap in STEM." This temporary moniker is meant to capture the attention of folks shopping for causes as part of the Girl Fund.

Read on for ore details in the the Quarterly Countdown Report below...

5 More Days Left in the Girl Fund Campaign  (March 6th-13th)

Overlapping with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, The School Garden Doctor was invited to participate in the Girl Fund, a week-long campaign showcasing causes that empower women and girls. You may have already received an appeal to ask just one friend to give $10 to support the Dirt Girls.There are still five days left to answer the call. 

4 New Donors Already! 

As of noon on Saturday, the Dirt Girl/Girl Fund has secured four new donors, putting us in 36th place (out of 250 organizations, that's not bad)! One new donor was enticed by Board Member Amanda Crump, who pitched someone in her book club, while Curtis is wooing a donor or two in Arkansas where he's making the rounds promoting B Cellars. 

Hopefully, I made an impression on a few more interested givers as a marketplace partner at International Women’s Day Celebration @CIA Copia. This event, sponsored by Women In Power Napa Valley, highlights community empowerment and local leadership featuring powerful speakers, and lessons about taking action.

3 Qualities of a Dirt Girl Mentor

Last Friday, the first Dirt Girl Mentor Apprentice, CR, announced her pregnancy, telling the girls, "I'm growing another Dirt Girl." How precious is that? Needless to say, the girls responded with glee because they have fully embraced CR as a member of the group. I can think of at least three qualities that make CR an ideal Dirt Girl Mentor: she promotes independence, she listens, and she truly loves nature. 

2 More Schools Added to the Roster

I look forward to offering CR flexible employment as she embarks on motherhood. Her news prompted the potential to work with an existing partner, the American Canyon Community & Parks Foundation, to offer Dirt Girls at TWO sites in American Canyon of just one! As Lead Dirt Girl, I will also pilot a program at Willow Arts Integration Magnet School, with hopes to launch a deeper partnership with that school in the fall. 

1  Priceless Quote

I recently came across a short list of simple things one can do to get dirty. So far, running barefoot in the grass is the Pueblo Vista Dirt Girls’ favorite. Last week, while sifting compost, LS proclaimed, “My mom doesn’t care how dirty I get. She just wants me to have a lot of fun.” 

Thanks to you, more girls can have a lot of fun digging in the dirt. Together, we're growing more Dirt Girls, one school gardens at a time! 

With Gratitude,

Carrie, Lead Dirt Girl

Dirt Girls doing community service
Dirt Girls doing community service
lettuce tacos were a huge hit!
lettuce tacos were a huge hit!


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Three Little Dirt Girls Go to the Farmers Market
Three Little Dirt Girls Go to the Farmers Market

The Dirt Girls are so grateful to the Global Giving platform for helping us reach our goal of raising $5,000 from 40 donors in 3 weeks. This outcome allowed our project to remain live and benefit from additional funds on #GivingTuesday and through the end of the year.

As the fall season comes to a close, we want you to know that you are part of our success! We have a lot to report, so here is a simple 5-4-3-2-1 countdown of our accomplishments to date... 

5 New Dirt Girls Join the Pueblo Vista Gang

Just after the Global Giving campaign, several new Dirt Girls joined us, growing our Pueblo Vista gang from 10 to 15 participants. Four of the five new girls were invited by opportunity scholarships made available thanks to the contributions of donors like you. When I asked the Pueblo Vista girls what activities they thought were most fun this fall, they reported that they liked "making the 'thank you' picture." In case you missed it in our email blast, here it is again

4 Weeks Until Winter Session Begins

Online registration for the Winter Session of the Pueblo Vista Dirt Girls goes live this week! Taking online sign up and payment is yet another feature of the program made possible because of donations.To solicit additional funding for operating expenses, The School Garden Doctor hosted a "Dine and Donate" event at Gott's Roadside in Napa. Held on October 24th (National Food Day), this event was complete with door prizes and networking opportunities. Over 50 community members attended, resulting in a $1200 payout to cover web development, insurance, and marketing costs.

3 Little Dirt Girls Go to the Farmers Market

On November 30th, three Dirt Girls braved cold and windy weather to interact with buyers interested in our homemade beeswax sandwich wraps. In the words of HF (the original Dirt Girl): "Making beeswax wraps was really fun." She especially liked picking the cloth and finding the right consistency of the wax spread. She added, "It was hard the first time we tried it, but when we used a better mixture, we learned  that we don't have to get it right the first time." A younger Dirt Girl, HW, thought it was really hard, but said, "It paid off because we earned $130." These funds will be used to take the Pueblo Vista Dirt Girls to the Ruth Bancroft Botanical Garden over winter break. 

2 New Dirt Girl Mentors Recruited

This coming winter, Crystal Rose will apprentice as a Dirt Girl Mentor. She will be paid a stipend to shadow Miss Carrie to learn the "The Dirt Girl Way." Then, in spring, we hope to launch Dirt Girls at a second site. Also in spring of 2020, Liz Corey will apprentice as a Dirt Girl Mentor at her home campus where she teaches third grade. Miss Carrie will model the structure, values, activities, and leadership associated with the Dirt Girl program. According to current Dirt Girls, important qualities in a mentor are: paying attention to each girl, making up fun stuff, and turning garden work into a game. To guide mentors, the Pueblo Vista DG have collectively developed the following eight Core Values:

Pueblo Vista Dirt Girl Core Values: 

  • girls doing science
  • developing knowledge
  • leadership capability
  • teamwork
  • inclusion
  • outdoors and gardening
  • problem solving
  • cross-age relationships

1 Dirt Girl Framework Developed

Consistent with the mission of The School Garden Doctor, Dirt Girls aims to engage girls in authentic scientific investigation, practice mindful eating and active habits, and become environmental stewards for the 21st century. This can't be done without a sustainable school garden, so new program sites make a one-time investment to get started. This financial commitment ensures that they recognize the value and realize the potential of this program. 

On the last session of the fall season, girls wrote journal entries about the core value they identify with most. Third-grade KF wrote, "My opinion is that the best core value is 'developing knowledge' because I personally think that being smart is a big part of life." When she and I reflected on what makes Dirt Girls so great, she asked me why I started the program in the first place. This budding journalist wrote the article attached to this report. A fourth-grade Dirt Girl, AO, picked teamwork because she likes "working with people to learn, communicate, and become a team." Imagine a world in which all girls had the opporutnity to develop these, and other important core values!

Thanks to you, more school gardens can create space that provides the opportunity to engage, practice, and become, while also inspiring dozens of girls to pursue science careers! 

With Gratitude,

Carrie, Lead Dirt Girl

Core Values at Opening Circle
Core Values at Opening Circle


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Organization Information

The School Garden Doctor

Location: Napa, CA - USA
Project Leader:
Carrie Strohl
Napa, CA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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