The Junior Master Gardener program is an international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension network. JMG engages children in novel, “hands-on” group and individual learning experiences that provide a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind.
JMG also inspires youths to be of service to others through service learning and leadership development projects, and rewards them with certification and recognition.
Children can get involved in exploring their world through meaningful activities that encourage leadership development, personal pride and responsibility, and community involvement. Youth involved in the program develop critical thinking skills, and the ability to identify community concerns and take action to address them through individual group projects.
JMG is designed to be a flexible program that can be used by many different groups. The program includes a study of life-skills and career exploration then culminates the JMG experience with service learning projects and recognizes their efforts with certification as a Junior Master Gardener.
The Junior Master Gardener program is based at Texan A & M University and the Texas Agri-Life Extension. The program offers two levels Elementary Level for grades 3 – 5, and Level 2 for Middle/Jr. High grades 6 – 8. Check out the full website @ jmgkids.us . This site will provide an overview and ordering information for the various curricula that offer many hands-on activities that can be led by Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers and some activities could be led by Teen Teachers. Curricula currently available include:
Level 1 - Elementary
- Junior Master Gardener (includes Teacher/Leader Guide and Member Handbook)
- Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! - most recent addition focused on gardening, nutrition and physical activity
- Health and Nutrition from the Garden – teaches youth that growing and eating nutritious fruits and vegetables reaps its own rewards
- Wildlife Gardener – combines resources from National Wildlife Federation and JMG and increases youth understanding for the importance of conserving and restoring wildlife habitat in their own gardens and communities
Level 2 – Middle/Jr. High
- Operation Thistle: Seeds of Despair – focused on plant growth and development
- Operation WATER: Dr. Thistle Goes Underground – focused on soil and water education and conservation concepts.
- Increasing environmental awareness in youth through horticulture and environmental education activities.
- Promote the use and development of science process skills including: observation, taking measurements and problem solving.
- Increase understanding of plant growth and development and the importance of soil and water in plant production.
Groups enrolled as Junior Master Gardeners and engaged in vegetable and/or small fruit production may also participate in 4-H Feeding and Growing Our Communities. Groups may apply for a challenge grant through the Illinois 4-H Foundation: (http://4hfoundation.illinois.edu/grants/feeding) providing they are willing to share some of their harvested produce with others less fortunate in their community.