Junior Master Gardener program helps youth grow

August 01, 2006|by Beth A. Bubacz

Do your kids like to make mud pies or eat strawberry jam?

Well, children can learn more about soils, fruits and so much more from the Junior Master Gardener program, which is based out of Texas A&M University but offered throughout the nation.

The JMG program allows children to get involved in exploring their world through meaningful activities that encourage leadership development, personal pride and responsibility, and even community involvement.

Youth develop critical thinking skills, and the ability to identify community concerns and take action to address them through individual and group projects.


JMG is designed to be flexible so it can be used by many different groups.

The Level One JMG curriculum is designed for those in grades three to five. Youth can explore eight chapters of novel, "hands-on" activities. The program includes a study of life skills and career exploration, then culminates the JMG experience with service learning projects. It recognizes their efforts with certification as a Junior Master Gardener.

Youth complete a total of 44 group activities, 44 individual activities and eight community service/leadership projects to become certified Junior Master Gardeners.

The activities include teaching them the basics of plants and the composition of soil so they are able to garden on their own. They learn about insects, how they work and the importance of them to pollinate.

The program goes through all the basic things of what a master gardener would do but on a little- person level.

If you are interested in starting a JMG club, there will be training here in August.

Getting a JMG group started is simple. Your JMG leader/teacher can be a classroom teacher, home- school parent, youth leader or anyone interested in working with youth.

If a JMG leader needs garden resources and information, he or she can contact the local county Extension service for gardening support. Youths can come from an existing class, school group, 4-H club, home-school group or an after-school program. The group, just like a regular 4-H club, must have at least five youths and at least one adult.

Once a leader is trained and the group is organized, it will be time to order curriculum and register your group with the local 4-H office and the national office at Texas A&M.

When all the training and paperwork is done, all that is left to do is dig in and get growing.

For more information about the program, go to the Junior Master Gardener Web site at

Beth A. Bubacz is the 4-H youth development educator at the Washington County Extension office. She may be reached weekdays at 301-791-1404.

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