Monday, June 7, 2010


Angela sends this report about MG efforts to help the students in the Mercersburg area learn about plants and wildlife.  By the way, the request for this effort came from a comment  posted at this blog back in March.  These are the kind of efforts that can get very good publicity for the Master Gardener program, and can be used as exemplars when we apply for grants, and talk about the importance of Extension and our program to the University, commissioners, and our state representatives in Harrisburg.  So thanks, guys!

On Friday, June 4th, Barbara Buzzel, Bill Dorman, Jim Reddington, and Angela Weathers went to Tuscarora Middle School to teach 100 school kids about the environment and ecosystems by experimenting with terrariums as a learning tool to show a small example of the bigger world we live in.

We arrived at 8am, not without a little trepidation, carrying plants and containers to make terrariums. We signed in at the main office and were given visitors passes and made our way to the science classroom. After we had stood for the national anthem and morning assembly was over the first of 4 groups of 25 kids trooped into the classroom.

Barbara introduced us and explained what we were all about, then using her many teaching skills got everyone started with five short quizzes on backyard wildlife that she and Karen Strimple (who was unable to join us due to jury duty) had put together. Jim, who will be on the permanent staff at the school beginning next term, enjoyed himself and held everyone's attention at the blackboard with lots of questions encouraging thought and expecting, and getting answers with an eager show of hands. Bill gave the students some interesting insights from his many years of experience growing plants in the garden, and intrigued them with some anecdotes from his travels around the world, Angela used a cookie jar purchased from Wall-mart to demonstrate how to make a terrarium and showed the kids how they could put together a simple terrarium themselves. Everyone had their own take-home terrarium made out of 2 small see thru plastic cups taped together.

We repeated these teaching discussions and procedures another three times, each time getting a bit more confident with our presentations. The science master was in the classroom with us all day as a firm hand to keep discipline, however, there were no problems because the kids were fascinated with it all and some even came back during their lunch hour to finish their terrarium. I know they want to invite us back again because everyone had such a good time and learnt a little about nature, it's connectedness and our role as stewards, the life cycle of plants and the importance of interaction in eco systems.

Thanks go to Mike Cannady, our own Franklin Co. MG terrarium expert for providing us with the perfect terrarium plants and soil but who unfortunately couldn't go with us due to work commitments.

If you want a rewarding experience please volunteer next time we get the opportunity to be school volunteers. You can use your creativity, expand on a subject and have fun with it.

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