What do green plants eat? How old is the tree outside? What part of the plant comes out of a germinating seed first? How do peanuts grow? What’s safer to catch with your bare hand – a Lepidoptera or a Hymenoptera? How do earthworms reproduce? Since 1988, the Plants Grow Children Program has been helping elementary school children learn the answers to these and other questions.
Through a series of hands-on workshops in classrooms throughout Benton and Franklin counties, Master Gardeners have spent twenty years educating area youth about the basics of plant science. Since its beginning, the program has grown much like a beanstalk… from reaching 1,291 children in its first year to reaching a total of 181,899 children in the years since.
In 1987 Master Gardeners of Benton and Franklin counties planted a seed. They wanted to teach elementary school children about plant growth, the value of trees, the importance of insects to the environment, and how we can recycle plant waste with the help of earthworms. To accomplish their goal, they developed the “Plants Grow Children” curriculum to be taught by Master Gardener volunteers to elementary school children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The sixth grade class was later dropped due to scheduling problems in the middle schools.