Garden clubs for kids

Kids who love to dig in the dirt and help others can participate in a new program that's sprouting as fast as zinnia seeds on a hot June day.

The Junior Master Gardener (JMG) organization was developed by Texas A&M University's Extension Service. They patterned it after the Master Gardener program, in which adults complete a series of horticulture training sessions and use that knowledge as community volunteers.

JMG "stresses leadership and community service," writes Sharon Omahen for the Georgia Extension Service, one of 255 groups in 23 states and two countries that participate in the kids gardening program.

Krissy Slage of the Georgia Master Gardeners told Ms. Omahen: "The lessons in the manual are horticulture-based, but they cover many other areas. For example, one lesson teaches math skills using fruits and vegetables."

JMG offers a wide range of activities designed to appeal to several different age groups: level 1 for Grades 3 to 5, level 2 for Grades 6 to 8, and level 3 for Grades 9 to 12. Students earn certificates for demonstrating skills, with participants who complete all eight units as well as eight leadership/community-service activities becoming certified Junior Master Gardeners.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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