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October 26, 2014

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Kids get hands-on environmental lessons

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News

Using an apple peeler-corer for the first time, from left, Andrea Hernandez, 9, Gabby McBrayer, 5, Camden Bennett, 10, and Frankie Simpson, 7, work together to prepare gala apples for their appleslop on graduation day during the Junior Master Gardeners class at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Jan. 8.

Junior Master Gardeners

Allison McElvany, 8, admires the graduation certificate she earned during the Junior Master Gardeners class at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Jan. 8. Launch slideshow »

Join the class

The Junior Master Gardeners program at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is accepting registrations for the spring semester beginning Feb. 5 The class meets twice monthly in the morning and is geared to provide hands-on learning about science to home-schooled students ages 7 to 12. The cost for each semester is $15. Those interested are encouraged to register as soon as possible as enrollment is limited.

For more information or to register call coordinator Karyn Johnson at 257-5523 or e-mail [email protected].

A sweet aroma filled the room while the small group of students filled out a measurement conversion math worksheet.

On a counter in the small classroom at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Silverado, the variety of apples the students had just peeled and cut simmered in a pot.

The lesson for Thursday's meeting of the students in the extension's Junior Master Gardener program was on Johnny Appleseed and the making of apple slop (a less refined version of apple sauce).

Many of the 7-to 12-year-olds in the program were accompanied by their moms and their younger siblings as the day's event not only included learning about apples, but also an awards ceremony to recognize accomplishments during the previous semester.

Each student who completed one or both chapters covered by the program in the fall was given a certificate and a pin.

Karyn Johnson, the coordinator of the program, said the twice-monthly class gives its students, who are all home schooled, a chance for hands-on learning about science and more specifically, the environment. It adds to the activities they do at home, she said.

While the apples continued to simmer, the five out of seven classmates who were present that day wondered outside to see how their plants were growing and how the worms in the extension's compost wagon were getting along.

Johnson said classes are held outside as often as weather permits and discussion topics will include the weather, insects, plant growth and composting.

Frankie Simpson, 7 who recently joined the class, said she has enjoyed herself so far.

"I've learned how to keep our bodies healthy and how to keep the earth healthy," she said.

Her classmate Camden Bennett, 10, will soon finish the two-year program after having already completed three semesters.

She recalled a project she enjoyed in which the students converted a clear film container into a bug catcher by drilling holes in it and sticking tubes in the holes. She said they put gauze over the inside openings of the tubes and then used the contraptions to catch bugs by sucking on the tube and pulling the insects into the container.

"This one guy sucked up a worm," she said.

She said she has also enjoyed the projects where the students plant seeds.

Class instructor and parent DeAnna McBrayer praised the hands-on methodology used in the program.

"They remember it better because they've lived it," she said. "It contributes so much more than a book or worksheet or any school classroom could."

Ashley Livingston can be reached at 990-8925 or [email protected].

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