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NC State Extension

Junior Master Gardener

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Welcome to the JMG Junior Master Gardener® program in North Carolina! JMG® curriculum provides a hands-on approach to learning horticulture, environmental science, leadership, and life skills. This program is committed to helping young people become gardeners and contributing citizens.

Find a curriculum that fits your group!

JMG mantis mascot
JMG activities allow the teacher/leader and youth gardeners to customize the JMG program to meet their needs and interests. JMG can be utilized by many different groups (4-H, scouts, summer camps, etc) and age levels. The program includes:

  • Level 1: Grades 3-5 (Teacher/Leader Guide, Health and Nutrition in the Garden, Wildlife Gardener, Literature in the Garden)
  • Level 2: Grades 6-8 (Operation Thistle, Operation W.A.T.E.R.)

Junior Master Gardener: Level 2

JMG® Teacher/Leader Guide Level 1

The JMG Teacher/Leader Guide contains the group activities. The curriculum consists of 8 chapters: plant growth and development, soils and water, ecology and environmental horticulture, insects and diseases, landscape horticulture, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, and life skills/career exploration.The group activities are integrated into math, science, language arts, and social studies. The teacher/leader guide includes work sheets, fun pages, songs, and additional resource materials.

JMG® Handbook Level 1

The JMG handbook contains novel, hands-on individual activities for youth. The handbook is intended to compliment the teacher/leader guide. At the end of each chapter are Leadership/Community Service projects. These projects help the JMG group share with their family, friends and community what they have learned. We encourage each JMG member to have a JMG handbook, however this is not required to participate in the program.

Learn, Grow, Eat, Go

Learn, Grow! Eat! Go! is school garden, nutrition, and physical activity curriculum targeting elementary-aged youth. Through a linear set of academically-rich, proven lessons, students will love learning about plants, what they need, how plants provide for our needs and how a class can work together to provide for the garden. Youth will harvest vegetables from the garden and use recipes in the curriculum to build an enthusiasm and enjoyment of healthy eating. Physical activity lessons get youth up and moving and grooving.

Wildlife Gardener

The National Wildlife Federation and the Junior Master Gardener program have joined forces to create an engaging learning opportunity for children. This curriculum will help children learn about the habitat needs of wildlife and develop a greater appreciation for the environment. The program culminates in a community service project, as the students develop a site recognized by the NWF as a Certified Schoolyard Habitat.

Literature in the Garden

This curriculum seeks to engage children through the powerful garden- and ecology-themed children’s books. It uses six books to inspire learning through outdoor activities, creative expression, and open exploration. Dozens of hands-on activities encourage leadership development, individual responsibility, community involvement, and the development of critical thinking skills.

Junior Master Gardener: Level 2

Operation Thistle—Seeds of Despair

This level 2 curriculum for the Junior Master Gardener program combines the teacher/leader guide with reproducible pages for young participants. Through dozens of exciting and fun activities, students can investigate plant growth and development, take part in service learning projects, and earn certification—all while undertaking an urgent mission to defeat Dr. Thistle!

Operation W.A.T.E.R.—Dr. Thistle Goes Underground

While following the continuing saga of the evil Dr. Thistle and his plot to rule the earth’s ecosystems, students in grades 6-8 can learn important lessons on soils and water. Topics in this book include soil color, texture, and structure; soil nutrients; soil improvement; soil conservation; the water cycle; aquifers, watersheds, and wetlands; water movement; and water conservation. Each of the eight chapters contains three hands-on activities to reinforce the concepts covered. Also included is a section on service learning and career exploration projects connected to soil and water.

Become a certified Junior Master Gardener®

Certification is the highest level of program participation and includes certification in all eight units. To be certified youth must complete one group and one individual activity in each learning concept. Level one contains 44 learning concepts. Youth must also complete one leadership/service-learning project per chapter. When youth complete these activities the JMG teacher/leader sends in the completion form that lists the names of the children who have met the program requirements. This form is found in the teacher/leader appendix. When JMG office receives the completion form, a completion certificate for each JMG youth will be sent to the JMG teacher/leader.

Register Your Group!

Registering your group is fast and free. You are not obligated to the Junior Master Gardener program (no annual fees, you aren’t obligated to complete the entire program, etc.). Registering gives us a way of knowing where our program is working and how we can provide program updates and information to you. One of the coolest things about registering your group is that registered groups may submit pictures to be added to their very own web page within the National JMG web site! Register online here or with your local 4-H Agent with the county Cooperative Extension office.


Liz Driscoll – NC Junior Master Gardener Coordinator

Curriculum Pages

Growing Good Kids

List of Growing Good Kid Book Awards! A partnership between JMG and the American Horticultural Society to award the best Children’s Gardening

Suck a Bug

Suck bugs!! Make your own aspirator in this fun JMG Activity!

Nutrients: Nailing Roots Plant Makeovers

Middle school students act out the symptoms of a plant nutrient deficiency

Grow Cards

Make plantable paper! Use these to teach about germination or sell them as a fundraiser!

Beneficial Bats

Students get up and move around as mosquitos and bats and learn about echolation.