Working with Children
Founded by the Tyler Council of Church Women in 1936, the Tyler Day Nursery was established to assist in the care of small children from households with insufficient income to meet their needs. It is dedicated to the physical, mental, and social development of children who might otherwise be left in unsatisfactory circumstances without the opportunity for quality childcare and preschool education. Many of the parents of these “at risk” children could not remain employed or attend school and would be forced into seeking public assistance without the benefit of the Nursery.
The Smith Co. Master Gardeners have volunteered at the Tyler Day Nursery for many years. A few dedicated women, especially Rubye Edwards set out to plant a garden, both vegetable and flowers at the nursery so that children could see plants growing each day. The kids and their teachers are involved by actually planting some of the garden vegetables, watching them grow, picking them and enjoying them as they are cooked by the staff. While only a few Master Gardeners are involved, the importance of this involvement in the community and to these children is far greater than the number of volunteers.
Junior Master Gardeners
The JUNIOR MASTER GARDENER (JMG) Mission: To grow good kids by igniting a passion for learning, success and service through a unique gardening education. The JMG program engages children in novel, “hands-on” group and individual learning experiences that promote a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind. JMG encourages youths to be of service to others through learning and leadership development projects and rewards them with certification. For more information, go the the Junior Master Gardener web site
In Tyler the first training for Jr. MG coordinators began in 1999 and the first group began in 2000 and later that year six young people were certified. Since then there have been active groups each year.
During 2010 a new JMG group, was started at All Saints Episcopal School. This lower school science department group of thirteen third and fourth graders meet weekly in a 16 week program. They have participated in a field trip to the East Texas State Fair to visit the AgriWorld “Our Secret Garden” exhibit, planted strawberries and made plaster of Paris molds of insects.
Smith County Master Gardeners developed a table-top game which provided questions that could be answered by kids. This game was used at 4-H events, Ag-ucation and other educational events. With input from many Smith County Master Gardeners, this concept was developed into an electronic game and refined it to provide players new games each time they play it. The questions and answers are based on the curriculum of the JMG program, designed for grades 3-5. To play, just click on any of the pictures on the game board and you’re off on a gardening adventure. You can play the game as an individual or in teams. The game was awarded 2nd place at the Texas State MG Conference in April 2007. At that same conference the Texas Junior Master Gardeners named it County/Community Program of the Year!
The AgriWorld displays are in place during the entire run of the ET State Fair in the Youth & Education Building.
Displays are designed to create a learning experience especially for children and adults as well. The Smith County MGs, with a big assist from the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, have a display called “Our Secret Garden.”