Program helps produce Junior Master Gardeners
BLACKSBURG — “I like carrots,” said 9-year-old Cypress Ambrose.
“I like them because I like to eat them, and they are fun to grow.”
Cypress, of Blacksburg, is a Junior Master Gardener student enrolled in the Junior Master Gardener Program at Virginia Tech.
“Gardens are fun to learn about, and I like looking at them a lot,” Cypress said.
The Junior Master Gardener Program is a Montgomery County 4-H, youth development, agriculture-based educational program administered through Virginia Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach program of Virginia’s land-grant universities.
The program is held at the Hahn Horticulture Garden on about 6 acres of public teaching and display gardens, which are open to the general public. This is the second year the program has been held at the garden. Participants meet there once a week during spring and fall semesters. The Junior Master Gardener Program is for children in grades 3-5, and is an off-shoot of a Master Gardener program for adults that is also offered through Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension.
The Junior Master Gardener Program offers horticultural and environmental science education through creative gardening activities and is led by garden experts and Master Gardener volunteers.
After completing a curriculum of hands-on learning, community service and leadership projects, students can become certified Junior Master Gardeners.
Cypress can obtain her Junior Master Gardener Program certification after completing 14 more weeks of curriculum in the fall.
As an experienced gardener at home before she signed up for the class, Cypress sometimes gardens with her parents and nine cats that like to run around in the garden.
“It’s fun to learn about the parts of the flower and the structures of the plants,” she said. “I know where to plant the plants, and when to plant them, and all the different ways for them to reproduce. Plants also hold the soil in place, and they are food for most things, including us.”
“We just want for them to have a love of plants, a love of nature and a love of gardening,” said Stephanie Huckestein, education and outreach coordinator at the Hahn Horticulture Gardens and a Junior Master Gardener Program instructor.
“We get them outside and get them interested about plants.”
The other big objective is to get them eating healthy, she said, adding that Junior Master Gardeners grow their own produce in 10 raised garden beds during the class sessions.
“They are more likely to try things if they have to grow it themselves,” she said.
Enrollment for the 2013 class is limited to 16 participants, has 26 classes and costs $50 per semester.
For more information about the Junior Master Gardeners program, contact Michelle Dickerson at 382-5790, firstname.lastname@example.org, Stephanie Huckestein at 231-5970, email@example.com or Joe Hunnings at 231-9409, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8620
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