Kids in the Garden, The Junior Master Gardener Program
Photo by Melody

Kids in the Garden, The Junior Master Gardener Program

By Paul Rodman (paulgrow)April 18, 2008
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There’s no better way to get kids involved in gardening than to introduce them to the Jr. Master Gardener program

Gardening picture


The Junior Master Gardener mission statement is “To grow kids by igniting a passion for learning, success, and service through a unique gardening education.”

If you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew or know any child who has shown any type of interest in nature or growing things, this program is for them.

In today’s world of computer games, cable television and cell phones more and more kids are staying inside the house instead of getting outside in the fresh air.

This program combines learning along with fun activities to teach the children about gardening and horticulture at a level that they can understand. The majority of the programs across the country are tailored to 3rd-5th graders.



The young gardeners get a sense of ownership as they apply what they have learned to their home gardens as well as gardens planted at schools, churches and parks.

Part of successfully completing the course is a requirement of community service hours. Much of this time is directed toward senior citizens and the disabled who are unable to tend their own gardens.

Educators who have observed students in this program have reported seeing marked improvement in grades and social skills over others who did not become JMG’s. They also report better behavior as well as respect for nature.

The programs are usually taught by local Master Gardeners or volunteers who love to share their gardening knowledge with others. The classes are held in schools, churches, community centers, or parks.

Horticulturalist Dorothy Woodson who was one of the JMG instructors in Fort Worth, Texas, commented “When you plant a little seed in a cup in the classroom you see it grow, that’s one thing. When you plant a seed in the garden and you actually eat the green bean, broccoli or lettuce, your self esteem soars.”

The curriculum covers the following subjects.

Plant Classification

What plants need to grow is one of the first topics covered. The difference between annual, biennial, perennials and bulbs are discussed.

Soil

Soil types, organic materials, and fertilizers are explained.

Composting
Composting as well as vermicomposting is actually demonstrated during the program.

Image Image
Gathering material for composting
Assembling a compost bin

Water

The water cycle is explained. Precipitation, condensation, evaporation are defined and how they can help or hurt the garden.

Insects
Not all insects are bad; beneficial insects can help to control the “bad bugs”.

Plant Diseases
How to identify and treat them.

Volunteering
Programs are identified on how the JMG's can help their communities.

Some of these programs are; starting a garden at your school, conducting a tree identification walk through a city park, helping to set up a city wide cleanup, or adopt a park to landscape.

I have a granddaughter who completed the program 2 years ago. She loves to garden and is an avid reader regardingn garden subjects. She is in the process of completing a project for her schools science fair. The topic? Vermicomposting a subject she first learned about in the JMG program.

To find out if and where your local program is located contact your local extension office. Better yet why not volunteer to help out in the program.

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A garden built by JMG's at a school

 

Photos courtesy of Texas A&m and Michigan State University Extension

 

 

 








  About Paul Rodman  
Paul RodmanPaul Rodman has been gardening for over 45 years. He is an Advanced Master Gardener, and American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian. He is President Emertius of the Western Wayne County Master Gardener Association in Wayne County, Michigan. He currently serves as the greenhouse chairman of this group. Rodman has amassed over 5500 volunteer hours in the Master Gardener program. Rodman is the garden columnist for The News Herald newspaper, in Southgate, Michigan. He has also written for the Organic Gardening.com web site. He is a certified Master Canner and has taught classes on Home Food Preserving for 7 years. He has lectured on various gardening topics throughout southeastern Michigan. His favorite pastime is teaching children about gardening. For the past several years he has conducted classes for second grade students teaching them about subjects ranging from vermi-composting to propagation.

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