How do you teach earth science to very young children?
A basic, simple 'down to earth' program.
Enter Yavapai County Master Gardeners - a part of Cooperative Extension's Master Gardeners Program.
Volunteers there are helping young children at the Prescott Head Start Center learn about planting and growing in their own school yard.
Master Gardeners are university-trained volunteers who serve as community educators. They work with the UA Cooperative Extension to provide researched-based information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public.... including children.
"They love planting! They love digging", says Scholly Ketcher, a Master Gardener in Yavapai County. She's been working with pre-schoolers ages 3-5 for several years, now.
"When I come out it's play time. They touch and look. They're so excited - they rush to the garden. They want to dig - they go for the trowel, or go for the watering can."
The raised beds in the garden at the school were built a few years ago, but needed to have plants put in.
That's when Cooperative Extension in Yavapai County stepped in.... planting the vegetables, and maintaining those plants.
This past year, the children, along with Ketcher's guidance planted cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, corn, and other edible crops.
They also get to 'taste-test' what they grow.
Paula Masterman, the Center Director, says Ketcher even planted a "pizza garden" with the children. They were able to use what they harvested as pizza toppings, as part of a family event.
"This is huge. They don't get to do this at home," says Masterman. "The children get a chance to see where food comes from, and how to nurture plants. Scholly is 'planting seeds', so to speak."
Ketcher moved to Yavapai County a few years ago. She's originally from England, and had always gardened there. She wanted to know what grew well in Prescott, and -how- to grow plants that thrived.
Scholly thoroughly enjoyed the Master Gardener program, saying it was fantastic. "Wonderful Course! Brilliant! Jeff and all the teachers were great!"
Cooperative Extension offers a Master Gardener Program in every county. To learn more about Master Gardeners.. head to the link for more information.