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Recently in the Youth Category

Crow Wing Co. MNTC MG Donation 9-8-14.jpg

Minnesota Teen Challenge (MNTC) in Brainerd, MN recently received matching donations of $925 each from Crow Wing County Extension Master Gardeners and from Daniel and Ken Lueken of Baxter, MN for the establishment of a new community garden. Crow Wing County Extension Master Gardeners will mentor MNTC clients and staff from start to finish during this unique, on-site educational garden program. A grant from Crow Wing Power provided the initial starting funds for the sustainable gardening project. Minnesota Teen Challenge provides treatment and recovery services for young adults.
Pictured here are (l to r) Eric Adamson, MNTC program manager, Sam Anderson, MNTC center director, Jackie Froemming, Crow Wing County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator, and, Ken Lueken, Crow Wing County Extension Master Gardener.

Master Gardeners cultivate healthy environment

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smith.jpgExtension Master Gardeners contributed more than 111,000 volunteer hours in Minnesota communities last year, many of which were spent teaching homeowners environmentally-sound landscaping practices or how to eradicate invasive plant species.

Community-wide programs, such as a long-term partnership with the Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District, illustrate what can happen when local alliances take off.

As part of the partnership, Ramsey County Master Gardeners work to revitalize Battle Creek, which drains a large part of the east Twin Cities metro area. As water rises in the creek, it undercuts the banks and vegetation is lost, causing further erosion and loss of animal habitats.

"Master Gardeners were instrumental in selecting long-rooted plants that would best stabilize the shoreline," says Sage Passi, watershed education specialist.

Master Gardeners also mentor Battle Creek Middle School students, showing them how to drive plants into erosion blankets. The school's science teachers are working with Master Gardeners to create a creek research area where students can compare different approaches to erosion control.

Protecting rivers, lakes and streams from yard-waste pollution is another priority for Ramsey County. Runoff from lawn chemicals can enter the waters through storm sewers causing fish kills, algae bloom and plant decay.

To help prevent that, Master Gardeners share tips on low-impact lawn care and composting at the county's yard waste and compost sites. The sites draw more than 500,000 people each season. Master Gardener Kathy Smith coordinates the effort.

"It all comes back to proper management of materials and reducing waste," says John Springman, environmental health supervisor with the St. Paul-Ramsey County Department of Public Health. "Master Gardeners extend our capacity to hone in on our environmental goals with the public."

A solar heated greenhouse for Grand Marais school

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A $10,000 grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson foundation allowed Cook County Master Gardeners to expand their youth gardening program by building a small solar heated greenhouse onto the Great Expectations School in Grand Marais. This will allow more local food production for the school and provide a space for after-school youth gardening programs.

The Master Gardeners are working with a licensed teacher to develop lesson plans on growing plants in the classroom as well as nutrition education. These grade-appropriate activities will be tied to the Minnesota educational standards.

School-based projects thrive in Ramsey County

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Battle Creek Middle School students

Last year in Ramsey County, Master Gardeners spent approximately 604 volunteer hours working with 1,865 students and 89 adults through school-based projects. These school-based community enrichment projects will have a lasting impact upon future gardeners. The gardens will help manage storm water run-off, beautify schoolyards, inform future school education activities, serve as demonstrations to students, staff, residents and visitors, and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Master Gardeners explained and discussed garden design elements, evaluated sites for schoolyard gardens and residential rain gardens, explained soil types and conducted soil sampling, taught students to identify common garden weeds, and instructed students on seed starting and transplanting.

Check out this thank you note from a Battle Creek Middle School student: "Thank you so much for everything you've done. You've been really helpful to Battle Creek. I think it's awesome that you care about our community. What I'm trying to say is that it means a lot to us middle-schoolers that you helped take care of our environment. Thanks a bunch."

Several county Master Gardener programs collaborate with local corrections departments on projects that benefit the corrections system clients and the greater public. In Olmsted County, Master Gardeners teach Dodge, Fillmore, Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections staff and community work service clients the basics of vegetable gardening. The participants learn to grow and harvest vegetables from a 1-acre garden they maintain. About 200 youth performing community service and about 50 adults on daily work release from jail are involved. Upon harvest, they prepare and sell the vegetables. Over 5000 pounds of vegetables are harvested. This project provides a constructive environment for youth to serve their community service hours. It also acquaints the participants with all aspects of gardening and experiences that illustrate the rewards from work.

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