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Curriculum development of a wildlife habitat gardening Golden Ray Series [sm] for the Junior Master Gardener [sm] Program
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Development of the Backyard Buddies Golden Ray Series curriculum for the Junior Master Gardener Program is a labor-intensive and ongoing project requiring consideration of numerous factors relating not only to the habitat gardening subject matter of the curriculum but to educational, economic, political, and other concerns as well. This paper summarizes the steps in the development of this curriculum. A first necessary step in developing the Backyard Buddies curriculum was understanding the Junior Master Gardener Program for which it was intended. JMG began as a 4-H gardening program in Texas and has since spread to 25 states and 2 countries. The program stresses "hands-on" learning in an effort to make the program fun for participants. JMG curricula are also oriented toward "whole-child" education, where both emotional and intellectual fulfillment are goals. JMG groups can consist of anyone, needing only an adult leader and a minimum of 5 youth participants. The only other requirement for a JMG group is that they register their group through the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and that they buy the necessary curriculum materials. However while anyone can form a JMG group and while the curriculum is applicable to groups of any kind, the curriculum is geared toward the needs of schools in an effort to gain a wider participation in the program. For this reason, JMG curriculum is typically designed to fulfil the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements for schools. Likewise, JMG curricula are also often designed to be compatible with the materials typically found on standardized tests like the TAAS test. A Golden Ray Series, such as Backyard Buddies, is an outgrowth of JMG'S basic curriculum. Each Golden Ray Series focuses upon a specific concern related to gardening. A previous GRS, for instance, dealt with Health and Nutrition in the Garden while Backyard Buddies focuses specifically upon habitat gardening. In developing the Backyard Buddies curriculum, JMG guidelines had to be followed while also developing a curriculum that would teach youth how to create and maintain a habitat garden. Because the final goal of this curriculum was to give learners an understanding of how to attract wildlife to a garden and to instill an appreciation of wildlife in learners, a Backwards Design approach to curriculum development was used. Finally, basic research had to be conducted in order to insure that all activities were factually-accurate as well as age-appropriate. Beginning with lessons on what habitats are, Backyard Buddies first section guarantees that learners have the necessary vocabulary and the necessary scientific understanding of wildlife needs to begin a habitat garden. This basic education continues with the next section on elements, such as food, water, and shelter, that are essential to the survival of wildlife in a garden setting. Following these sections come sections on birds, mammals, insects, and reptiles/amphibians. These sections deal with specific needs and concerns relating to habitat gardening and these particular animal groups. Next comes a problem-solving section in which learners deal with potential problems related to wildlife habitat gardening. Finally, the concluding section consists of life skill and career exploration lessons related to habitat gardening. The Backyard Buddies curriculum is currently awaiting review. Following review and any necessary revisions, the curriculum will be pilot tested and, again, will undergo any necessary revisions. Then, artwork, graphics, and layout will be designed prior to the curriculum's publication and implementation.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 111-112).
Meche, Michelle S (2001). Curriculum development of a wildlife habitat gardening Golden Ray Series [sm] for the Junior Master Gardener [sm] Program. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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