University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Hillsborough Master Gardener Uses Junior Master Gardener Activity to Reach Out to Students

Students at LaVoy Exceptional Center in Tampa recently participated in a Junior Master Gardener activity that coupled education, creativity, and fun!

Students with their teacher and MG volunteer
LaVoy students show off their handiwork, with Mr. Boatman and Lesley Fleming looking on. Photo courtesy of Lesley Fleming

Led by Hillsborough County Master Gardener Lesley Fleming, the students created sombreros using newspaper and then decorated them with paints and ribbons. The activity comes from the Junior Master Gardener curriculum and teaches students about recycling and sun protection.

Using old newspapers to create the sombreros provided an opportunity to discuss reusing and repurposing materials, as well as the importance of recycling.

Each sombrero had its own unique shape and style and students were able to decorate and further individualize their creations. Students were excited about the activity and enjoyed wearing their sombreros around school.

Junior Master Gardener activities focus on experiential learning as a way to introduce children and adolescents to new ideas in a relatable, hands-on way. With her training as a horticultural therapist, Fleming was able to add creative expression as well. Participants were students aged 12 to 17 from five different agriculture classes taught by Alan Boatman.

Boatman with one of his students
LaVoy agriculture instructor Alan Boatman with one of his students. Photo courtesy of Lesley Fleming

This activity was performed as part of ongoing Master Gardener presence in the school. Lesley Fleming and fellow Master Gardener Jeanne Willis have been going to LaVoy Exceptional Center for the past two years, where they perform monthly activities with the students.

LaVoy Exceptional Center provides educational programs and support for students from age three to twenty-two with a range of disabilities.


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