Kim Murray, a fifth grade teacher at Munford Elementary, has been the leader all three years. She began with the fourth grade classes the first year of the program and each year has added a grade. She now has fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes participating. The kids each year are eager to continue in the club. The kids have also participated in 4-H summer camp for two years.
Munford Elementary School is located in Talladega County and has a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. They have two sister schools, one is in New Mexico and one in Virginia. These schools have the same partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. The U. S. Forest Service provides funding for outdoor classrooms and displays within the school. They also assist Foresters to take the children out into the Talladega National Forest for hands-on learning.
The school also has corporate sponsors to help with funding and they are allowed to have their displays in the school. This environmental theme throughout the elementary school is now beginning to spread to the middle and high schools in Munford.
The JMG Scientist is responsible for the upkeep of the courtyards at the school. They also participate in cleaning up the nature trails where they are learning to identify the trees along the trail. The children each have a gardening spot using the square-foot gardening concept. The four other JMG groups participated in the Journey North Program with tulips. They plant the tulips in November and when the bulbs began to emerge, the kids track the tulips and measure their growth. They then post their measurements to the Journey North website where they can compare tulip growth to other climates.
Kim Good, Regional Extension Agent for 4-H youth and development in Talladega County, tells how the kids have taken ownership of the outdoor classroom. The kids are very interested in being sure the outdoor classroom looks good and is always maintained.
"One of the kid’s family is building a new home and the child is designing the landscape for the house. When they began building the house, the child told her parents she wanted to be involved in planting the plants and deciding which ones to use because she had learned to do this in her JMG Club," Good said.
Luci Davis is the State Junior Master Gardener Coordinator. For more information on the program, phone (334) 703-7509.