Robbinsdale Area Schools

Students advance skills through Junior Master Gardener Program

Students advance skills through Junior Master Gardener Program

In 2020, Zachary Lane created a school garden. A grant supported the cost of materials and parent volunteers built the garden beds. During the first few growing seasons, the school partnered with the University of Minnesota Extension Hennepin County Master Gardeners for consultation and support. Master Gardeners offered free youth education gardening lessons to each grade level.

It wasn’t long before teachers expressed interest in scheduling multiple garden topics throughout the year. 

Last summer, in partnership with Master Gardeners who helped develop other local programs, members of the ZLE Green Team (parents who volunteer and support the garden at Zachary Lane), and Rdale’s curriculum and instruction staff, the Grow Lab was born. An empty classroom was transformed into a space dedicated to year-round garden lessons, complete with grow lights for indoor growing during the winter months.  

The new grow lab supported the implementation of the Junior Master Gardener (JMG) program, launched this past fall. The new space provides 'hands-on' group and individual learning experiences that provide a love of gardening and develop an appreciation for the environment all year long.

The Junior Master Gardener lessons are taught by a team of Hennepin County Master Gardener volunteers. All students at Zachary Lane get to participate.    

Students have the opportunity to earn a level 1 certification as a Junior Master Gardener by completing a group and individual activity per teaching concept, and a service/leadership project. This year's kindergarten class will be the first class eligible for certification by the end of their fifth-grade year if they complete all the requirements.  

By participating in the Junior Master Gardener program, students will gain knowledge in the areas of plant growth and development, soils and water, ecology and environmental horticulture, insects and diseases, landscape horticulture, fruits and nuts, and vegetables and herbs.  

They gain experience working in small groups to conduct scientific experiments - writing a hypothesis, setting up variables in the experiment, making observations and collecting data, and drawing conclusions. They will have exposure to scientific vocabulary and different areas of study within the scientific field. Students will walk away knowing how to design, plant, maintain, and harvest a garden.