Home and Garden

Alabama Junior Master Gardeners®

The Alabama Junior Master Gardener® program is committed to helping young people become gardeners and contributing citizens. This program's curriculum provides a hands-on approach to learning horticulture, environmental science, leadership, and life skills.

Junior Master Gardeners® of the Month

Congratulations go to the JMG® Snapdragons for being the February group of the month. JMG® Snapdragons are a group of fifteen youth at Hewitt-Trussville High School who are led by teachers and volunteers. Teacher Carrie Jones and volunteers, Lisa George and Susan Grimes work with the students on a daily basis to bring gardening into the classroom. This is the second year that the group has participated in the JMG® program. The JMG® Snapdragons are not your typical group of young people. They range in age from 14-21 and have various physical, psychological, emotional and developmental limitations and delays. This group of young people are part of the Life Skills Academy at Hewitt-Trussville High School.

Student Group

The Life Skills Academy at Hewitt-Trussville High School received a CAWACO R,C & D educational grant to help further their JMG® program. As a result of the grant the P.L.A.N.T. project was created and a partnership between Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Hewitt-Trussville Life Skills Academy and the JMG® program was formed. The project involved an intergenerational pairing of members of the Life Skills Academy with residents of the Oaks on Parkwood, a retirement community in Jefferson County. The main objective for the students was to prepare them, through a combination of classroom instruction, mentor interaction and horticultural therapy, to acquire the skills and training to prepare them to contribute to their community to the best of their abilities.

Student Group

The students spent time at the retirement community helping to improve their grounds by adding flowers and container gardens to their patio. Back at the school the drafting and carpentry classes designed and built raised beds for the exceptional students to begin gardening outside. Inside the classroom, the JMG® curriculum was used to teach their science lessons that complemented their outside gardening.

The program allowed students to develop necessary life skills while connecting with their community. Furthermore, the residents of the Oaks on Parkwood reported greater life satisfaction and self-esteem combined with lessening of depressive symptoms. The students have an increased connection to their natural surroundings that has proven to be an important part of their learning. One of the goals of the volunteers, teachers and students is to earn JMG® certification by the end of the year.

Student Group

Many successes have come out of this project. Carrie Jones speaks of one student that before the P.L.A.N.T. project began would not look people in the eye, dig in the dirt, touch a plant or carry anything heavy. Now he looks people in the eye, is the first to introduce himself, digs in the dirt , plants, weeds and carries anything he is asked to. Jones goes on to say that this was a big step for this student.

Ms. Jones also talks very appreciatively of the volunteers that come into the classroom once a week, Lisa George and Susan Grimes. "I have seen many sessions with Ms. Grimes that evoke many amazing responses from some of my students that have moderate to profound disabilities."

Student Group

JMG® is typically used with young people between the ages of 8 to 14. This group has shown how versatile the JMG® curriculum can be and how it can serve any child interested in gardening.