The 2022 Junior Master Gardener, JMG, National Leader Training Conference will be held Feb. 21-23 at Texas A&M University in Bryan-College Station. The conference will be at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, located at 177 Joe Routt Blvd. on the Texas A&M campus.

A logo that says Junior Master Gardener Growing Good Kids

“The goal of this conference is to bring together teachers and leaders from across the nation for formalized training in the JMG curriculum,” said Lisa Whittlesey, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and Junior Master Gardener, JMG, program coordinator.

“This is an opportunity for participants to engage with our Extension institutions and learn about the JMG program,” Whittlesey said. “JMG is an international youth gardening program that engages children in individual and group learning experiences that help them develop a love of gardening and appreciation for the environment.”

Registration options and associated costs can be found at https://tx.ag/JMGNTLC22.

Keynote speakers and panelists  

Feb. 23 will feature a presentation by keynote panelists Sarah Pounders, senior education specialist, Kids Gardening, Burlington, Vermont; Rocio Hernandez, Farm Program director, IDEA Public Schools, Weslaco; Renda Nelsondirector, Better Living for Texans, AgriLife Extension, Amarillo; Emilee Case, coordinator for special projects, Texas Department of Agriculture, Austin; and Jordan Walker, director of educational outreach, Texas Farm Bureau, Waco.

On that same day, Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, Ph.D., associate director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, will present the conference’s breakfast keynote address. Seguin-Fowler, who is also a public health scientist with expertise in community-based nutrition and physical activity intervention research, will present “Measuring Impact and Current Trends in Health, Wellness and Nutrition Community Evaluation.”

“That day we will also be focusing on the Learn, Grow, Eat and Go! program and especially the new early childhood curriculum for that program,” Whittlesey said. “There will also be some interesting hands-on activities and presentations in The Gardens at Texas A&M University on rainwater harvesting, propagation techniques, interesting tree facts, home vegetable gardening, aquatic sciences and more.”

Concurrent session speakers

In addition, several featured concurrent speakers during the conference will address a wide variety of youth gardening program-related activities, topics and initiatives.

Kids squatting in front of plants in an outdoor garden
Youth gardening and nutrition are emphasized in JMG’s Learn, Grow, Eat and Go! program. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Among the featured speakers will be Marcus Glenn, Houston Independent School District area manager – nutrition and agriculture. Glenn will provide an overview of how the JMG’s Learn, Grow, Eat and GO!, LGEG, gardening and nutrition program was implemented through the Houston ISD’s Nutrition Services Food and Agriculture Literacy Department. The department is using the LGEG curriculum to support 16 school-based gardens in Houston.

Another presentation of interest will be “Cultivating Collaboration: Providing Support for Successful Programming Partnerships.” Presented by Jaden Kelly, Better Living for Texans agent, and Kristina Brown, 4-H and youth development agent, both with AgriLife Extension in Harris County, this will address the collaboration between JMG and its LGEG program with the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA in Houston.

Other session topics and speakers include:

— Hands in the Garden: Using JMG to Create a Network of Service-Based School and Community Gardens, Deborah Ivie, Extension assistant professor, Utah State University.

— Hands-on with JMG Level One, Whittlesey.

— Hands-on with JMG Level Two, Randy Seagraves, AgriLife Extension program specialist and JMG curriculum coordinator, Bryan-College Station.

— Teaching JMG through K-8 School Science Classes, Greg Pitts, 15-year Master Gardener and JMG volunteer, Leon County.

— Summer Day Camps in the Garden — or Not: Logistics, Shelley Mitchell, associate Extension specialist, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma.

— Kids Growing in Common Ground: Bringing the Garden to the Neighborhood, Sandy Dailey, director of Garden Programs/JMG coordinator, Harvest House Community Learning Center, Lebanon, Indiana.

— JMG in Native Community GardensReagan Wytsalucy, Extension assistant professor, Utah State Extension, San Juan County, Utah.

— Grandfriends: Partnering with Senior Centers in JMG Programming, Sage Allen, program coordinator, Utah State University Extension, Salt Lake City, Utah.

— Learn to Pilot and Implement Early Childhood Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!, Tricia Braxton Perry, program manager, Youth Horticulture Education Program – University of Nevada at Reno Cooperative Extension, and Yvonne Jacob, director of education, disabilities and mental health, Acelero Learning, Clark County, Nevada.

— GROW TOGETHER: The Benefits of Starting a School Garden Program/Club, Rolando Roman, Mississippi State University Extension health/physical education/gardening teacher, Mannsdale Upper Elementary, Madison, Mississippi.

— Code Your Garden: Integrating STEM Concepts into Your JMG Program, Ivie.

— After the Harvest: Preserving and Sharing Our Success, Pamela Van Wagoner, Extension assistant professor, Utah State University Extension, Salt Lake County, Utah.

— When Spheres Collide: Exploring the Ecosystem and Agriculture, Meggan Callister, program coordinator, Salt Lake County, Utah State University Extension.

— Culture, Climate, and Crops! Oh, My! Differentiating for Successful JMG Gardens, Benjamin Scow, professional practice Extension assistant professor, Washington County, Utah, and Rowe Zwahlen, Extension assistant professor, Emery County, Utah.

— Create Your Own JMG Implementation Plan, Seagraves.

More about the conference

To allow flexibility for attendees, the 2022 conference offers a three-day attendance option or a two-day attendance option. The registration fee includes JMG marketing resource materials, hotel parking, daily breakfast and lunch, and a reception on Monday evening. It also includes a private tour of The Gardens at Texas A&M University.

“Through the concurrent sessions, teachers, volunteers, school nutritionists, Extension staff, SNAP educators, administrators and state and national coordinators of successful JMG and youth garden programs will share best practices, motivating highlights and reports from the field,” Whittlesey said.

For more information, go to the website or contact Caren Walton with the Junior Master Gardener program at caren.walton@ag.tamu.edu.

Paul is a communications and media relations specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Communications. Based in San Antonio, Paul is responsible for writing advances, news releases and feature stories for Texas A&M AgriLife agencies, as well as providing any media relations support needed.