Junior Master Gardener Program
Planting Roots in your Community
The Junior Master Gardener Program was created in Duval County in 2002. Our mission is to enhance education experiences through hands on learning activities and provide curricular materials that enable us to help youth learn and retain science with concrete experience. Youth perform community service activities and gain skills in problem solving, communication and goal setting. The work is coupled with vegetable and butterfly gardens. In some gardens, we have been able to plant citrus trees and we hope to expand that part of the program.
Most of the programs are in Duval County Public Schools. Florida Master Gardener volunteers go into classrooms to teach the materials. The students and teachers take leadership roles in garden care.
We are presently in 8 schools, spread across the county. Schools included are Crystal Springs, Reynolds Lane, Hyde Grove, Twin Lakes, Southside Estates, Windy Hill, Greenfield and New Berlin. The average number of children at our schools who qualify for reduced or fee lunch is 66%. We serve a population with 67% of their students declaring themselves to be minorities.
Funding for this program is provided through the city of Jacksonville and many generous donors.
Teachers wanting to start a 4-H Junior Master Gardener Program should contact the Duval County 4-H office at 255-7450.
EnviroScape® Watershed Model and Extension Great Educational Combo
Terry DelValle, Duval County Horticulture Extension Agent
The Lower St. Johns River Main Stem Basin is impaired and the City of Jacksonville has developed a management action plan to reduce the nitrogen load. Part of this plan is providing educational programs about pollutants and stormwater runoff. To assist, funding was obtained to educate youth about responsible gardening practices and how this impacts our water bodies.
Terry DelValle, the Urban Horticulture Agent, along with Master Gardener volunteers developed a program using the EnviroScape® Watershed/Nonpoint Source Model targeting elementary age students. The program introduces the watershed model, water bodies in Duval County, potential pollutants, how pollutants affect the environment and how to prevent pollution.
Students are engaged in identifying the components of the watershed: neighborhood, construction site, sewage treatment plant, golf course, factory, farm, roads and water bodies. Discussion moves to what are pollutants: trash, fertilizer, pesticides, oil, pet wastes, and soil. Students take turns applying pollutants to areas where they would most likely occur. Then they make it rain using spray bottles. Pollutants dissolve and run directly into the water body showing how they move off site to pollute water.
In 2014, ten presentations were given to 324 students. To access knowledge gain, students were asked before and after questions. There was a 77% (n=310) knowledge gain when asked if they lived on a watershed and a 30% gain in understanding that they could help reduce pollution. More requests are coming in from other schools so plans are to train more Master Gardeners to meet the increasing demand.