Kent County to Offer Junior Master Gardener Program in Two Locations This Summer

4th – 6th Graders can engage in unique learning opportunities as they explore the role of a master.

Students entering fourth, fifth and sixth grades in the fall of 2012 are invited to participate in one of two Junior Master Gardener programs offered in Kent County, Mich. this summer. Junior Master Gardener is an international youth gardening program of the University Extension network. The Kent County Junior Master Gardener program meets one morning per week for 10 weeks from June to August. The program teaches participants how to grow fruits and vegetables, how to cook with the produce they grow and exposes participants to a variety of related careers.

Kendra Wills, an Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Educator based in Kent County, serves as program coordinator and lead instructor of the Grand Rapids program. Meggan Johnson, director of the Lowell Area Schools Wittenbach/Wege Center, serves as the lead instructor for the Lowell program. Two Master Gardener adult volunteers provide assistance to the Lowell program. In addition, an MSU Urban Collaborators undergraduate summer intern provides support to the program.

The programs give students valuable hands-on learning experiences that will benefit them their entire life. Most of the students try new foods and think more positively about science, outdoor exercise, and healthy eating than at the beginning of the summer -- habits that will hopefully carry on into the rest of their lives. 

Some unique learning experiences included in the program are: visiting a daylily farm and crossbreeding daylilies, visiting a local greenhouse, touring the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden in East Lansing, selling produce at a local farmers market, and cooking with professional chefs at the graduation celebration.

Programs will be held in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Wednesday mornings and in Lowell, Mich. on Thursday mornings. Most sessions meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon with some longer days for field trips. The cost is $100 per student. This cost covers 10 weeks of class, a snack each week, three field trips, gardening supplies, a T-shirt, a workbook and awards for homework completion. Those with limited incomes are eligible for scholarships. Scholarship information and a program schedule can be found in the registration brochure

Registration forms are due June 4, 2012. A maximum of 20 students for each location will be accepted. Registrations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Support for the 2012 Kent County Junior Master Gardener program is provided by MSU Extension, The Wege Foundation, Lowell Area Schools, Snow Avenue Greenhouse, and William Bos Greenhouse and Farm.

For more information about the Kent County Junior Master Gardener program, contact Kendra Wills at 616-336-2028 or

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