At The Gardens at Texas A&M University, the belief is everyone has something to learn about the world around them, regardless of their age. As a result, they have launched the Little Sprouts Club, a brand new program for young gardeners who are ready to get growing and learn from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Junior Master Gardener curriculum.
Kathryn “Kat” Grier, education and outreach coordinator for The Gardens, is the seed to thank for sprouting up and running this youth program. Her goal to engage all audiences through gardening education fuels her programs like the Little Sprouts Club.
About Little Sprouts
With a focus on expanding outreach through education, the Little Sprouts Club provides a fun and interactive way for local youth to engage in education with The Gardens.
“This program is meant to somewhat be an introduction to gardening for our littles, early education and pre-school range kids,” Grier said. “We try to be as hands-on as possible.”
Every class session, the young gardeners ages 3-5 learn about parts of the plant and what a garden needs to thrive in hands-on, interactive lessons and activities from the Junior Master Gardener curriculum.
“Each week, we dive into a specific part of the plant a little bit deeper,” Grier said. “In the first week, we focused on what plants need to grow. In the second week, they learned all about seeds, and they even got to dissect a seed. Then they got to plant some seeds and potatoes. Then, in the third week, we will be hands-on with roots and digging in the dirt.”
With a few more weeks left in the program, the class will continue to roll up their sleeves every Wednesday and learn through hands-on gardening activities.
Planting seeds of inspiration
The lessons taught within the Little Sprouts program extend past simply teaching an appreciation of nature, Grier said. The children enrolled in the program also learn the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.
“We use a lot of activities from the Junior Master Gardener early childhood education curriculum, which also incorporates a lot about healthy eating and being active,” she said. “So, this curriculum is somewhat blending gardening into healthy living, essentially getting kids excited about growing things that will eventually end up on their plate for them to eat.”
She believes that engaging people at a young age in these conversations about living healthy in and around nature can create a lasting impact on their lives. The Junior Master Gardener curriculum used in the program helps to serve as the intersection between those healthy living and gardening conversations.
“I think what is neat about this age group is their never-ending curiosity,” Grier said. “I do not have to ask them to want to learn or to dig in the dirt, they naturally have those instincts to just figure things out on their own.”