Junior Master Gardeners are growing green thumbs in Magnolia ISD
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas -- Gardening in the schools is happening throughout several elementary schools in Magnolia ISD. Bear Branch, Ellisor and Magnolia Parkway Elementary schools all have Junior Master Gardening (JMG) clubs that meet on a regular basis. These groups are comprised third through fifth-graders and kindergarteners.
The children are learning how to grow their own food from transplants and from seed. The garden clubs learn the important roles that plants play in our lives. Topics such as Soil, Water Conservation, Compost, Worms, and Insects are just a few of the presentations the groups participate in learning about through the course of the school year. The Montgomery County Master Gardeners works with these schools in planning and assisting the schools.
Bear Branch Elementary has two JMG clubs which meet on Monday at 7:20 a.m. Mrs. Buchholz and Mrs. Allen, teachers at Bear Branch Elementary, are the leaders of this club. They are assisted by Master Gardener, Merrie Decker and parents. They grow vegetables from seed in their greenhouse and are participating in broccoli trial to see which variety produces the most through the fall and winter season. This school also has a Monarch Waystation in their Butterfly and Blooms garden where the children maintain a garden to provide host and nectar plants for the Monarch Butterfly. This club has been in existence for five years and has won an award for its gardening program from the Texas State Master Gardening Association.
Ellisor Garden Club meets several times a month, some Saturdays for a few hours in the morning and Fridays before school. Mrs. Stepanik, Mrs. Schindler, Mr. Wiecker, and Ms. Peek lead the garden club. While the club is open to third through fifth-graders at this time, the Ellisor Garden and Outdoor Classroom is a space where students across all grade levels are able to experience the entire growth process from seed and soil, to plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Students will also understand the role of insects, pollinator plants, and the importance of healthy eating habits in our own lives. While the garden benefits the entire school, the club provides an opportunity to bring together students, parents, grandparents, school staff, and community members who share a vision of providing our children with hands-on opportunities in a garden and outdoor classroom.
Magnolia Parkway Elementary just recently started their garden club. Mrs. Hinkelman, Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Bergeron lead this third-grade garden group named Garden Discoveries. The group has learned about the importance that rocks and soil play in gardening. The group also participated in planting in square foot gardening beds at their campus. They planted fall vegetables and seeds. In December they will be starting their own worm composting bin and learning how beneficial worms are to our soil.
The JMG program is a nationwide organization and an extension of Texas A & M Agrilife Extension and works through the 4-H program as well as the Master Gardener Association. The curriculum is geared for 3rd – 5th grade and incorporates activities along with the TEKS program. Schools that are interested in this program can contact Caroline Cruz, Montgomery County Extension Agent, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 936-539-7823 ext. 3.