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Christina McGhee

Community Programs
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As part of the Community and Education team, Christina aims to instil wonder and joy in the new generations of children who come through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Since a young age I have been inspired by plants. As a child I was a fascinated with the form and structure of weird and wonderful plants. I delighted in pulling carrots out of the ground and spraying dirt on my face, and enjoyed climbing trees and testing the boundaries of just how high I could ascend and just how small a branch could hold my weight.

My inspiration from plants looks a little different now (I don’t climb trees so often as I once did!). But plants still amaze and delight me, and in my role in the Community and Education team I aim to instil some sense of this wonder and joy in the new generations of children who come through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney -  in school excursions and in family holiday programs and events. 

Reflecting on my own happy experiences as a child in nature, and now as an adult, learning from the research in this area, I can see how having positive experiences in nature as a child really does have a lasting impact of your attitude towards nature as an adult.

I was fortunate to have a mother and a grandmother who loved growing plants. I was often in awe at the incredible knowledge my nanna shared as we would walk around the neighbourhood looking at the flowers. My mother instilled in me a love for fresh fruit and vegetables, growing up on a hobby farm on the rich floodplains of the Shoalhaven River we always had something growing which I could harvest. 

From climbing trees and making bangles and baskets from the willow in my front garden as a child, I studied biology and ecology at university and then worked in bush regeneration where I made it my personal mission to learn as many local Sydney plant species as I could.

Since then I have retrained as a primary school teacher and worked in environmental education, taking children on bushwalks for school excursions and working as an education officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Now full time in the education team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, I love connecting children with nature through our beautiful gardens. I realise that with our children growing up in the city, and especially nowadays with the increasingly digital world in which they live, there can be a disconnect between them and the natural world that did not exist for me growing up in the country on a hobby farm with a beautiful garden. But with our Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in such a unique position in the centre of the city, we have an opportunity to provide a point of connection for our city kids with nature in a way they might otherwise not experience. We have gardens which can delight and inspire children (and adults) in so many ways. 

My hope is that in providing an experience of joy for people, no matter what age, in our beautiful Gardens, we will inspire them to love and protect our gardens and natural environments for future generations.