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 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2000. LYG has grown to include four youth education programs (Youth Gardening Program, Leaf Out Program, Enterprise Internship Program, Branch Out Program) serving young people ages 3-21, as well as numerous community service projects, including the Loveland chapter of Plant a Row for the Hungry (started in 2005).

Under its current leadership by Heather Anderson, LYG is continuing Joanna’s vision, including plans to grow the organization to include year-round production, classes and programming; produce sales at the LYG farm stand and local farmers markets, as well as to local restaurants, and expanding our outreach and community involvement, while never losing sight of our core mission of serving the disadvantaged youth of Loveland and teaching them valuable job and life skills.