AMES, Iowa – Planting a vegetable garden is a summer ritual for Tonya Krueger. So it’s only natural that the registered dietitian and clinician for Iowa State University’s Dietetic Internship program would want to share her passion for gardening with others – especially children.
Krueger recently returned from Louisville, Kentucky, where she helped the PGA TOUR Wives Association and the PGA of America Spouses build and plant nine raised vegetable gardens for a local elementary school. The two organizations sponsor a charity event during the PGA Championship. Krueger was invited to participate after her husband, the PGA pro at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, qualified for the major championship event held at Valhalla Golf Club.
It was a unique opportunity for Krueger to spend a day working in the garden with 60 other PGA wives and spouses. But the chance to give back and help fight hunger is what really motivated Krueger.
“As a dietitian, teaching people about healthy food is really important. As an instructor at Iowa State, working with student interns training to be dietitians, I think it’s really important to practice what we preach. We also need to get out into the community to give back and helping with the garden is just one example,” Krueger said.
Vegetables and herbs grown in the garden will be used in the school cafeteria and to supplement food provided through Blessings in a Backpack, a program that provides school children with a backpack of food for the weekend. Many of these children would otherwise have little or nothing to eat. Krueger says the gardens will not only provide healthful food options, but also teach children about gardening.
“The teachers incorporate the gardens into their lessons and curriculum,” Krueger said. “The space is not strictly for growing things. It’s also a quiet setting near the school where students can go to read. There is also a gardening club at the school that will be responsible for planting and maintaining the garden after school.”
The volunteers also landscaped the school’s sensory garden where children can spend time reading and teachers can use the space as an outdoor classroom. Krueger hopes her experience will be an example for ISU students about giving back and also show how a love for gardening and promoting good health can be combined into a career.