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Hancock Park Garden Club Gives National Award to Science Educator Tashanda Giles-Jones

Hancock Park Garden Club President Michaela Burschinger presented GCA’s Hull Award to Tashanda Giles-Jones, science educator at Environmental Charter Middle School.


Earlier this month, the Hancock Park Garden Club presented the Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award to Ms. Tashanda Giles-Jones, for her innovative holistic science and garden education program at Environmental Charter Middle School – Inglewood.


Tashanda Giles-Jones, Teacher, Green Ambassador at Environmental Charter School – Inglewood, winner of the GCA Elizabeth Hull Award.


“The Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals furthering the early environmental education of children,” said Michaela Burschinger, Brookside resident and president of the Hancock Park Garden Club, in her presentation to Ms Giles-Jones.

“There could not be a better time to recognize educators who are connecting children with the environment,” explained Burschinger. “We celebrate Elizabeth Abernathy Hull’s memory by honoring these educators, especially now, given the stresses of the pandemic. As the pace of environmental change accelerates, hard-working teachers have to do even more to overcome the challenges of the past two years. The Hull Award winners exemplify outstanding citizens in their local communities by making a difference and we applaud their efforts.”

A woman ahead of her time, Miss Hull (1900 – 1996) was an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club and credited her mother and grandmother with instilling her own passion for the environment. The Hull Award, established in 1992,  provides $1,000 to chosen recipients who honor Miss Hull’s common sense approach to environmental awareness by inspiring children under 16 years of age to appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet.

Ivan Gusmao, Hancock Park Garden Club member and Windsor Village resident, proposed Ms. Giles-Jones for the national award after she had heard an interview with Giles-Jones on KCRW/National Public Radio almost two years ago. Gusmao was so impressed, she wanted to meet Giles-Jones and learn more about her program. Last fall she attended a community Harvest Day at the school.

“I was deeply moved to witness the oasis her school gardens have become to her students and to the surrounding community,” said Gusmao. “Her philosophy is captured on the back of her tee shirt which read: ‘Our Mission: To reimagine public education in low-income communities of color to prepare conscious, critical thinkers who are equipped to graduate from college and create a more equitable and sustainable world.’ Her work here makes it clear that these are not just words. She is cultivating young leaders as well as plants; she is changing lives.”

“When I proposed submitting Ms. Giles-Jones for the award, our board unanimously concurred,” Gusmao told the Buzz, adding, “Our members were so enthusiastic about her work, that our club elected to further recognize her with our own award to help support her program.”

Giles-Jones was personally awarded a check for $1,000 along with an additional check for $1,000 from the Hancock Park Garden Club to be used in her school garden.

Giles-Jones’s program, known as Green Ambassadors, goes beyond environmental studies. Through her curriculum, she connects growing and eating healthy food in a sustainable way to community wellbeing.

“I feel so privileged to teach children about nature and all the things I love and the fact that they eat it up!,” said Giles-Jones, who said she was surprised and deeply honored to accept the award at a special presentation planned by school officials.  After working in the medical profession for 18 years, Giles-Jones channeled her passion for nature into a second career teaching sustainable community practices.


ECMS Inglewood school leaders and Hancock Park Garden club members : (l-r) Alison Suffet Diaz, Founder of Environmental Charter Schools; Farnaz Golshani Flechner, Executive Director/CEO; Hancock Park Garden Club members, Ivna Gusmao, Michaela Burschinger, President, and Holly Holyk, and Julie Vo, Director of Development of ECS.


The garden at ECMS Inglewood features an arroyo that reduces water runoff.


The vegetable garden at the ECMS Inglewood.


The Hancock Park Garden Club is member club of the Garden Club of America, a national leader in the fields of horticulture, conservation, and civic improvement. Founded in 1913, The Garden Club of America is a volunteer nonprofit organization comprised of 199 member clubs and approximately 18,000 club members throughout the country. GCA members passionately devote their energies and expertise to a wide array of projects in our communities and across the nation.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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