Master Gardeners' influence in Eagle Point schools

Little Butte students learn how to plan flowers from Master Gardeners.
Little Butte students learn how to plan flowers from Master Gardeners.

A chilly, damp spring, delayed the launch of Little Butte School’s third year with the Master Gardeners’ program. On April 4, school staff member Altha Worst shepherded  participants from grades one to five to begin the project for which they’d volunteered.      "We have three flower beds in development," Worst said. "We put in pansies last fall; this is our first spring garden."

Worst said their instructions incorporate other skills besides raking
and weeding. The students will send  thank you notes to the parents’
group that provided $50 for plant purchases. This gives the kids
practice in reading and writing. For math components, they calculate
dimensions of  flower beds, and diameters of circular blooms. They also
divide numbers of perennials by students to determine how many each can
use.  
   
Worst, who instructs the young growers, credits
Master Gardeners’ Bill Dietz with always being available to answer her
questions. Of the thirty-five participants who signed up this year, a
few returnees from last year assist in mentoring their group’s
newcomers. Little Butte School employee Jim Bieg’s a huge help as well,
Worst said.     
   
Upon retiring in 2004 from elementary
school teaching, Ashland resident Dietz trained to become a certified
Master Gardener. He enjoyed helping school kids do something they
love–digging in the dirt. Today Dietz oversees the countywide Master
Gardener program that provides cash grants to local schools for
garden-related projects. 
   
By the April 5 deadline,
applicants representing Jackson County grades K-12, qualified for
grants by sending letters addressing basic questions. These concerned
schools’ horticulture programs, current resources, classroom space,
garden plots, student involvement, and specific needs.     
   
A
non-profit volunteer organization affiliated with the Oregon State
University Extension Service, JCMGA promotes gardening education within
the community. Money  for the learning grants derives from the upcoming
Spring Garden Fair slated for the last weekend in April at Jackson
County Fairgrounds. Other funding comes through the annual Winter
Dreams/Summer Gardens seminar in November. 
   
Worst used her
cash grant from Master Gardeners to buy paving stones and child-size
gardening tools. Bigger than toys, they’re much easier for the children
to manage, according to Worst.
   
Also taking part in the
same program, Eagle Point Middle School qualified for a grant from
Dietz as well. Under the guidance of  Barbara Wass, that project also
began  shortly after this year’s Spring break.
by F. C. Blake
Of the Independent.

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