Posts Tagged ‘youth’

2015 Search for Excellence Awards – Youth — 1st Place Winner

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

“The Misadventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden”

Farmer McGregor and Peter RabbitEntering its sixth year, “The Misadventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” an interactive and educational puppet show, presented by the Sussex County Master Gardeners, Delaware Cooperative Extension, has reached more than 9,000 children, primarily in the five- to eight-year-old age groups. Older children and adults also indicate they have learned something.

Sussex County is Delaware’s most rural, agricultural county. Even though our children are surrounded by farms, most kids know little about where their food comes from. “Are those vegetables real?” is a question we regularly hear from kids. Many children have never held a raw potato, do not know that potatoes grow under the ground, and often do not realize that French fries are potatoes. Additionally, Sussex County has an increasingly multicultural, diverse population, and there are a large variety of ways vegetables are prepared in their homes.

Inspired, but very loosely based on the Beatrix Potter version, this typically 30-minute presentation focuses on bits of botany, agriculture, food culture, nutrition, entomology, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). However, it is quite different from the book we all know. When Peter is tricked by Ripley Rat (he’s not a Beatrix Potter character) and loses his money to Ripley, he faces a moral dilemma until he is convinced by Ripley it is okay to help himself to Farmer McGregor’s vegetables.

The interactive show then focuses on Farmer McGregor, a look-alike Master Gardener, talking with the children about how vegetables are grown and the parts of the vegetable plants we eat. The children learn the “fruits of the vine” (tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers), the leafy vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, greens), the roots, tubers, and bulbs (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions), the seeds (corn, beans, peas), and the flowers (broccoli and cauliflower).

Peter interacts with the children about the nutritional benefits and how the vegetables are prepared (cooked and raw, plain and seasoned, whole and shredded, alone or with other foods). Peter Rabbit Georgetown Farmer and Foodie Festival


A busy bee talks about gathering nectar and pollen for the hive, and both the bee and a beautiful butterfly talk about the importance of pollination. A ladybug beetle and a Japanese beetle talk about whether they are “good” or “bad” bugs in the garden, and a large predator, a praying mantis, dispatches a Japanese beetle.


When Farmer McGregor returns to find his vegetables gone, the audience admits that Peter stole his vegetables. McGregor threatens to make bunny burgers out of Peter, and a chase scene erupts which the children thoroughly enjoy. The show concludes with Peter admitting his transgression to Farmer McGregor and wishing to work to pay him back. They jointly open an organic vegetable farm stand. Even Ripley Rat is convinced that vegetables are better than candy and “all’s well that ends well.”


Everyone gets a sticker emblazoned with Peter’s picture and “I love vegetables”

The Peter Rabbit players perform in the Peter Rabbit garden in the Sussex County Demonstration Garden, at libraries, schools, 4-H clubs and other youth groups, daycare centers, farmers markets, churches, garden clubs, community festivals, and anywhere else there are children who love a good story and willingly eat their vegetables.


The props are lightweight and portable for “on the road” shows. The backdrop features a photo of the painted fence behind the Peter Rabbit garden in our Demonstration Garden. It’s supported by a simply-made PVC pipe structure for both inside and outside performances. At times, a long table laden with vegetables invites the children to “Please Touch the Vegetables” or in smaller venues, children sit in a circle and the vegetables are passed around. In between shows at festivals, Farmer McGregor, Peter Rabbit, and other puppeteers roam the grounds handing out tickets (produced by a simple Word document) with the show times listed to encourage the children to attend.


Costs are minimal with volunteer time and effort. Also included with the script is basic budget information: $100.00 will buy enough puppets to start. $200.00 will buy a menagerie. A backdrop is not necessary, but the cost is around $170.00. Peter Rabbit Georgetown Farmer and Foodie FestivalTo build the PVC pipe support is around $50.00. Stickers could be printed on a home computer or thousands can be ordered for a few hundred dollars. Fresh vegetables and gas money for each performance are minimal.


Part of the fun is to ad-lib. All you really need are a few Master Gardeners who enjoy children.



For More Information: Contact Tammy Schirmer at (302) 856-2585, extension 544 or
Cooperative Extension  programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on non-discrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Cooperative Extension Office.

Wordless Wednesday: Master Gardeners Reaching Out to Youth

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

2011 Search for Excellence Youth Category Award Winner- 3rd Place

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Youth and Family Services Garden Project- Canadian County, Oklahoma

The Canadian County Master Gardeners served as the daily programmers, dedicating themselves for two months at the Youth & Family Services facility where they worked side by side with disadvantaged youth to construct a nature trail and low ropes course incorporating horticulture fieldtrips and the Junior Master Gardener Curriculum.

A youth learns about the importance of irrigation in growing plants.

Each week had a garden theme that all the classroom, outdoor activities, and fieldtrips focused around. Furthermore, activities were divided into large group projects, small group projects, and individual projects. This created an environment that required the students to work together and communicate with one another, while allowing them to have their own “personal stamp” on the garden.


The youth learned a great deal about horticulture, art, technology, and life skills. By utilizing the Junior Master Gardener curriculum they learned the basics of plant science. Armed with this knowledge, the youth performed gardening skills such as planting, irrigation, mulching, plant identification, staking, and weed prevention while they were out in the garden. Additionally, they learned about related environmental issues such as water erosion, pollution and wildlife attracted to a garden. The youth gained valuable lessons in life skills such as communication, teamwork, and budgeting.

The Canadian County Master Gardeners (CCMG) are affiliated with Oklahoma State University Extension.  CCMG is a young organization that established just 4 years ago, but now has an active membership of 45 Master Gardeners.

Visit the Canadian County Extension Master Gardener website-

Written by Casey Sharber, Extension Educator, Horticulturist, Canadian County, OK

2011 Search for Excellence Youth Category Award Winner- 2nd Place

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Juvenile Detention Center Community Garden- Champaign County, Illinois

Master Gardeners showcase their Juvenile Detention Center garden.

Champaign County Master Gardeners who volunteer at Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center, won 2nd place in the International Master Gardener Convention, Search for Excellence Award, October 14, 2011 in Charleston, West Virginia.  Master Gardeners have dedicated the last eight years developing an exceptional horticulture program at Juvenile Detention Center.  The garden provides different forms of engagement for youth, including designing, planting, and maintain gardens; harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and incorporating literacy.

The mission of Champaign County Master Gardeners is to “Help Others Learn to Grow.” Every Thursday afternoon, you will see this motto in practice at the Juvenile Detention Center in Urbana. The community garden at Champaign JDC is the site of a year round educational program focused on at-risk youth ages 12-17.  Working inside during the winter on interactive lessons the Master Gardeners prepare their students for spring and summer when they work outdoors maintaining the gardens on a weekly basis.

Working around the inherent restrictions of a secured facility, the Master gardeners have used their creativity to create relevant and exciting lessons. Some the most popular lessons are the salsa-making lesson where students experiment with produce grown in their garden and an indoor lesson that exposes students to familiar and unfamiliar produce (pumpkins, watermelons, squash etc.) while collaborating with a music professor who brings international instruments made from gourds. Master Gardeners and teen-agers have also created a habitat for Monarch butterflies. The garden is now a certified Monarch Waystation.  The garden was also a feature of the 2011 Master Gardeners Garden Walk.

To learn more about Champaign County Master Gardeners view their website at

Written by Julie Steele, Master Gardener Coordinator Champaign County Illinois

2011 Search for Excellence Youth Category Award Winner- 1st Place

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Agri-Fest- Polk County Florida

Master Gardeners work with youth at one of the eight agricultural stations.

Polk County Florida Master Gardeners received the 2011 International Master Gardener Conference “Search for Excellence” (SFE) Award for its Agri-Fest horticulture project which teaches 4th graders about seeds and plants, and the consumer products that they produce in the county’s agricultural economy. The 1st place award in the youth project category was presented by Monica David, SFE Chair, of the University of Illinois during the organization’s conference held October 11-14 in Charleston, WV.  Carol Leffler gave a short presentation about Agri-Fest to 1,000 Master Gardeners attending the conference.

Agri-Fest “Horticulture” is a program that attracts 6,000 4th graders and 325 teachers annually in the spring. For 12 years, students have been coming to the Polk County Extension Service from throughout the county for this program, which is comprised of eight agricultural stations. Although the SFE Award was given for the Master Gardeners’ project relating to horticulture, students also visit other disciplines including citrus, blueberries, honeybees, livestock, forestry, phosphates, small farms, and the water cycle to learn about the local agricultural economy.

Polk County has experienced a 43% increase in population in the last decade. Most students are less likely to have direct experience with the historically agrarian lifestyle that is a basis of the Polk County economy, despite the continued importance of agriculture in their lives.

“Market Basket” shows youth relationship of Horticulture to everyday life

Polk County Master Gardeners redesigned the horticulture program in 2010, to focus on giving students hands-on experience,and developed a teaching tool called “The Market Basket” to introduce students to the direct relationship between horticulture and their everyday lives.

The “Market Basket” activity allows students to directly see how seeds and plants produce consumer goods they use in their everyday lives.

Students met in small breakout sessions, and worked closely with Master Gardeners in directed activities with plants, seeds, and consumer goods that result from the agricultural process. They also potted a plant to take home. The result is that students find themselves learning to appreciate plants and beginning to think about land and water conservation as the basis for success in their environment.



Link to SFE Application:

Polk County FL Master Gardener Website:

Written by Carol Leffler, Polk County Master Gardener

2011 Search for Excellence Innovative Project Winners- 3rd Place Tie

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Two projects: Emerald Ash Borer Awareness/Management by Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners and Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps by Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners tie for third place in the Innovative project category at the International Master Gardener Conference.

Emerald Ash Borer – Greene County Ohio Master Gardeners

Ohio’s Greene County Master Gardeners were awarded the Search for Excellence Award, 3rd place, at the International Master Gardeners Conference for their Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program.  In their thorough approach, the Master Gardeners worked with local government to not only raise general awareness but to manage the impact of the EAB.

Master Gardeners check a city tree for signs of EAB damage.

Seminars and meetings reach 1000+

Under the leadership of Thais Reiff, Xenia, Ohio, the group hosted three major seminars and 40 group meetings, reaching over a thousand government officials, landscape professionals, and private citizens.  To emphasize the need for EAB training and provide all Ohio Master Gardeners information, they developed, aired, and archived nine EAB and tree related training programs over the internet.  This innovative program delivery provided the impetus for the creation of the Ohio State University sponsored “EAB University.”  For more information, visit:

EAB Tree Inventory of ~25,141 Green County Specimens

Lead by retired engineer, Steve Mehaffie, Beavercreek, Ohio, the Master Gardeners and volunteers inventoried every city-maintained tree in Greene County, totaling approximately 25,141 specimens.  To achieve this amazing feat, Steve provided a thorough document, “Guide to the Beavercreek Tree Inventory”.  Also, he shared his tree inventory techniques in 90-minute presentation on “How to Do a City Tree Inventory” for organizers. The goal was to allow local governments to better manage their urban forests in light of the EAB infestation.  Both presentations are available to all Master Gardeners throughout Ohio and beyond at:

For more information, visit

Written by Susan Richardson, Greene County Ohio Master Gardener


Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps – Anne Arundel County Maryland Master Gardeners

Anne Arundel County, Maryland Master Gardeners also received a third place award for their project with youth- Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps.

Children enjoy getting their hands dirty while learning about soils and nutrition at Grow It Eat It Summer Camp.

Basic Food Gardening Lesson for Youth in Summer Camps

In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Recreation and Park, Annapolis City Recreation and Parks, and the Family and Consumer Sciences at University of Maryland the MG established a lesson on basic food gardening for underserved youth between ages six and twelve who were attending Recreation and Parks summer camps.

Lessons included Soil and Nutrition, Seeds, Plant Parts, Whole Grains, and Colors. Over 760 children attended the camps where they learned basic gardening principles and were given the tools to make healthier choices at home. The Master Gardeners were also asked to return to work with children ages four and five to introduce basic gardening concepts.

For more information visit the website at

posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice President