Gardening shown to improve student behavior, achievement
EDINBURG – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will hold its 13th annual Health and Habitats Teacher training on May 10 in Lyford, according to an AgriLife Extension horticulturist.
The training will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hilltop Gardens, 6.5 miles north of La Villa on Farm-to-Market Road 491. The cost is $85, which includes lunch and curriculums to use in the classroom.
“This is for educators interested in installing a school garden,” said Barbara Storz, an AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Edinburg. “Teachers will have the opportunity to learn how to build vegetable plots or habitat gardens and utilize our Junior Master Gardener curriculum.”
Research by Texas A&M University, its agencies and partners has shown that school children involved in gardening and using the Junior Master Gardener curriculum improve their science scores, math abilities and expand their vocabularies, she said.
“We know children who garden are healthier, better behaved, and schools experience higher attendance rates, all of which result in higher achievement,” Storz said. “These children also respect the environment and their self-esteem is elevated as they are giving back to the community, producing food and supporting wildlife.”
The workshop will have outdoor demonstrations in the morning followed by indoor classroom instruction after lunch, Storz said.
“The hands-on activities will come from one of two curriculums participants choose, both of which are part of our Junior Master Gardener Program,” she said. “One is Health and Nutrition from the Garden; the other is Wildlife Gardener. Both target third- through fifth-graders, and all activities are correlated to the Texas standards in math, science, language arts and social studies. Teachers of younger students can easily adapt the curriculum for their age group.”
Teachers will receive six hours of continuing education credit.
Storz said teachers who have participated in past trainings have reported marked improvement in their students.
“One teacher told me that our Junior Master Gardener program taught students about ‘slow food’ and learning how to wait for good things to happen, rather than demanding immediate gratification,” she said. “A second grade teacher said that class behavior problems disappeared when everyone learned that time in the garden is fun and rewarding and something to look forward to.”
Classroom teachers, principals and those teaching summer programs are encouraged to attend, Storz said. Space is limited to 44 participants, so early registration is recommended.
For more information on the curriculums go to http://jmgkids.us. For information on the training or to register early, contact Storz at 956-383-1026, or Jennifer Herrera, AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Cameron County, at 956-361-8236.