Mission, Goals & History

Mission & Vision:

The mission of Loveland Youth Gardeners is to cultivate job & life skills, environmental stewardship and service in youth facing barriers by building healthy relationships with people, agriculture, and community.  Our vision is for all youth to realize their value and potential and be equipped to lead a healthy and productive life.

Our Goals:

  • Develop job and life skills
  • Promote active volunteerism in youth through service to the community
  • Encourage environmental stewardship by educating students about natural resource and conservation practices

Our Values:

  • Positive relationships
  • Respect for self, others, and environment
  • Community Engagement
  • Compassion
  • Commitment
  • Diversity
  • Collaboration
  • Interdependence


Loveland Youth Gardeners (LYG) was the vision of its founding director, Joanna Rago, a Clinical Social Worker who believed that working with young people to cultivate skills and strengths through growing an organic garden would benefit youth, the environment, and the community. Joanna created the first summer youth gardening program in 1996. As a pilot intervention program (Loveland Youth Garden Project) to serve Loveland area youth with emotional and behavioral challenges. The Thompson School District, City of Loveland Department of Solid Waste, and the Larimer County Master Gardener Program of CSU Extension provided assistance to begin that first program in May 1996. During Joanna’s leadership (through January 2015) The organization received nonprofit 501 c 3 status in 2000 and grew to include additional four youth education programs serving young people ages 5-21, and the community services, including Loveland chapter of Plant a Row for the Hungry.