Wayne County creates crate full of resources for successful Junior Master Gardener program

In Wayne County this year, the Junior Master Gardener 4-H program was able to reach a diverse group of young people at a variety of sites.

In Wayne County this year, the Junior Master Gardener (JMG) 4-H program was able to reach a diverse group of young people at a variety of sites. The eight-week program was a collaboration between Michigan State University (MSU) Extension consumer horticulture educator Kristine Hahn and 4-H educator Laurie Rivetto to create something that was hands-on for youth and had solid content. The result was a leader guide, student guide and JMG kit – a crate filled with supplies to create a successful JMG program.

In the 2008–2009 year, JMG programs were held at Edward “Duke” Ellington Elementary, Youthville Detroit and the Wayne County MSUE satellite office. Summer programs were held at a summer camp program in Wayne, MI, and as a collaboration with Garden City’s Community Coalition and the Plymouth-Westland Grange. The summer JMG program was coordinated by AmeriCorps member Amanda Segar, and many classes were taught by Wayne County Master Gardeners (some of whom came through the JMG program).

These programs were meant to ignite a passion in youth to care for a community garden. In Amanda’s teaching experience at the summer camp, she was astounded by the children’s knowledge and curiosity about plants. The group discussed different classifications of soils, and Amanda shared the fact that Michigan has a state soil, just as it has a state bird and state flower. She then challenged the group to name the state soil of Michigan. One of the quiet, older girls got wide-eyed and her face lit up as she shouted “Kalkaska Sand!” The whole group gave her a round of applause.

Youth learn about topics such as soils, plant science, fruits and vegetables, water, garden design, insects, plant diseases and volunteering. To become certified as Junior Master Gardeners, they must be community volunteers (logging at least 12 hours of volunteer service) and share the many things they have learned about plants and how to grow them, to help make the community better and help others learn more about gardening.

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