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Junior Master Gardener program provides a chance to give back


By Anna Hiltibidal

By joining 4-H programs in Cumberland County, my family has had a wonderful opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We have found that 4-H takes pride in leading our school-age kids to achieve progress in their own lives while learning to work well with others.

My family is a part of the Junior Master Gardener 4-H Club that meets at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office on East Mountain Drive. I have 3 children in that club – Caleb, Connor and Galia – and we are going on our third year now. Junior Master Gardener is a wholesome, down-to-earth club that teaches kids to love getting their hands dirty. This club is saving the art of gardening by teaching the next generation how to grow and care for plants. Our motto is “growing good kids.”

Recently, we, as a family that chooses to homeschool, were given an opportunity to be a big help at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden in the name of Junior Master Gardeners. “Mrs. Florence” had come through in the form of a devastating hurricane and she left the garden in a huge mess. The garden’s staff was determined to carry on with the 15th annual Heritage Festival, scheduled three weekends after Hurricane Florence, even though much work had to be done first. My family wanted to lend a hand.

We went to the garden on Monday and Friday of the week before the festival. We rolled up our sleeves, put on mosquito spay and went to work. Much of what we did was fun in the eyes of my children. Things like building life-sized scarecrows, moving and hauling straw bales, building teepees from bamboo and tossing 285 pumpkins to build a “pumpkin patch” were just a few of those jobs we helped to complete. While there, we saw students from Fayetteville Technical Community College and many others who were also volunteering their time to help the garden prepare for the festival.

It is so important to see the good in others. Being a part of such a giving, caring community such as the Junior Master Gardeners 4-H Club helps tremendously. My son Caleb says it like this, “There are good people everywhere if you look, but especially in JMG.”

I’m proud to be able to help in a crisis situation. To see my children step right in and do the same is priceless. My family would love to thank our friends at the extension office and at the botanical garden for letting us help serve you. We also extend a huge thank you to Cumberland County 4-H for all it does to lift up and include all the young people!