Question: I notice you talking about the Master Gardener Program in your articles, but I know that is for adults. Do you have any gardening programs for children that our family could get involved in?
Answer: Yes! Using curriculum developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Cooperative Extension, we are beginning to offer Junior Master Gardener programs across Atlantic County. Beginning in September, Atlantic County 4-H will offer an eight-week Junior Master Gardener training course for children ages 6-12. The topics covered in the program will include seeds and plant benefits; plant growth and development; soils and water; ecology and environmental horticulture; landscape horticulture; insects and plant disease; vegetables, herbs and fruit; and harvesting.
Through the Junior Master Gardener program children will explore their world through hands-on horticulture and environmental-science activities that encourage leadership development, personal pride, responsibility and community involvement. This program incorporates service learning and volunteerism, which enables youth to make a positive contribution in their community.
The JMG program will give participants opportunities for peer and cross-generation mentoring by working with the Master Gardeners, community leaders and volunteers. Junior Master Gardeners who are 9-12 will also have the opportunity to be mentors to younger youth by assisting in teaching them about horticulture.
In addition to our 4-H group, we can work with groups throughout the county to start their own Junior Master Gardener programs. This program can be delivered in school, as a club, as a 4-H after-school program, or as a camp with the help of Atlantic County Master Gardeners and the 4-H program. Groups do not need a garden to have a Junior Master Gardener program. You can stop by our table at this weekend’s Atlantic County 4-H Fair to look through the curriculum book, get more information about the program, or sign up. We will have an information meeting on Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office, 6260 Old Harding Highway, Mays Landing. You can also contact Belinda Chester, Brittany Rigg or Kendrin Dyitt at 609-625-0056.
For more information on gardening programs for youth you can contact your local extension office. Atlantic County residents can contact the Master Gardener Helpline at 609-625-0056. Cape May County Residents can call 609-465-5115, ext.3607.
Atlantic County Master Gardeners will be available to answer gardening questions and take samples for plant identification or diagnoses throughout the county this summer. You can find us at the Ventnor City Farmers Market on Aug. 9; Atlantic County 4-H Fair on Aug. 8, 9 and 10; Brigantine Green Fest on Aug. 24; and the Hammonton Green Day Festival on Sept. 21.
Do you have a gardening related question you would like answered here? Please forward your questions to Belinda Chester, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office, 6260 Old Harding Highway, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. You can also submit questions at Rutgers-atlantic.org/garden or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org; please include “garden question” in the subject line.