DIRT GROUP is a trauma informed children’s mental health application based in social and emotional learning in the context of a gardening/farming/foods/and creative arts program. DIRT GROUP was created by Kenny Turck whose family has been on the same farm since 1875 when his great grandfather Jacob threw an axe into the woods to decide where to homestead. Kenny is a Social Worker and in 2010 received the NASW (MN) Paul & Sheila Wellstone Social Justice Award for his work on food security issues with at-risk youth through DIRT GROUP. Kenny has been working in the human services field for 30 years and is the founder, CEO, and Co-Owner of Crow River Family Services, LLC (CRFS) based in Hutchinson, Minnesota. CRFS provides outpatient and community-based mental health services.
The DIRT GROUP Paradigm, is informed by and grounded in 5 major theories: Symbolic Interactionism, Experiential Learning, Social Learning, Ecological Systems, and Strength – based theories. DIRT GROUP provides tangible results, skills that prepare participants for life, pride and ownership, community contributions/investment & participation (“Big Ripple Effect”), and social inclusion–fostering resiliency, competence/mastery, achievement, mindfulness, and emotional and behavioral self-regulation.
Implications for practice include alternative education opportunities in the form of academic credits in science, writing, technology, FACS, social studies, economics, etc., community-based mental health/social/life skills training, early childhood development (brain development), juvenile and adult corrections, economic development (“What the Cluck Food Truck”, “4 Bubbas Foods”, “Jersey Sausage & Kraut”, and more!!!)