DOBSON — Doubtless, the goal of the 4-H Jr. Master Gardener class is to plant a kernel of knowledge in fertile young minds.
Participants kicked of the first of two “Summer Explosion” programs on gardening Tuesday at Fisher River Park. According to N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development Teresa Wilkins, the course began by making 4-H’ers aware plants provide food, shelter, clothing, furniture, oxygen, dyes for clothing and medicines.
“It’s not just a class about how plants are something pretty growing,” said Wilkins. “We also use games to teach students plants need things such as sunlight, food and water. Most of the participants this year knew the basics going into the class.
“Plants compete,” said Wilkins. “They don’t compete verbally or physically, but we want to show them how this affects plant growth.” She explained that role playing games where participants pretend to be a blue jay or a squirrel are used to demonstrate how some seeds are spread. The importance of water quality for plants and people was stressed.
Participants searched the waters of Fisher River to inventory young aquatic insects to determine water quality as part of the course as well.
Some of the games, the blue jay game for example, have a time limit and if the participants did not find all the acorns and other seeds hidden, they would starve. Wilkins also talked about how some seeds “hitchhike” on clothing and some are broadcast by winds.
Participants also dissected germinating seeds to see how structures in them help scientists classify plants.
One experiment to show how seeds are like a plant’s “lunchbox” was to place sunflower seeds in a glass tube. Moisture is provided the seed by a wet cotton ball. Wilkins explained that everything the young plant needs to start and get it growing is inside the seed, until it is big enough to get its own food.
Activities for the class today are scheduled to begin with more hands-on experiments and activities about composting to show the importance of nutrition to plant life cycles.
Summer Explosion is scheduled to begin again on Friday at Fisher River Park with a class titled “Wings.” This class is designed to get participants to look at the world through a bug’s eye. The group will study how butterflies live and behave in their environment. Other activities will include students building a butterfly and taking a butterfly feeding hike.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.