Gardening & Environmental Education

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News and events:

Master Gardener Program - This 2017 class will be held on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Kent County MSU Extension Office, 775 Ball Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 running from late August to early Dec. 2017. The cost includes the 1,000 page training manual. The cost is yet to be determined.

If you have questions or would like to be placed on the 2017 waiting list, please contact Deb Gulick, the West Michigan Master Gardener Program Facilitator at 616-632-7880 or gulickde.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We hope you can be a part of this wonderful training in Fall 2017!

Educational opportunities:

Master Naturalist

The MSU Extension Master Naturalist programs in Ottawa and Kent Counties are full for 2017

There is a waiting list for the 2018 Master Naturalist program if you would like to participate.  If interested in being on the 2018 Waiting List, please complete the following registration form for either the Kent or Ottawa County program.

Being on the waiting list means you will receive the 2018 Master Naturalist brochure and registration materials earlier than the general public (around February 1st). If you do not place your name on the 2018 waiting list, then you may register for the Master Naturalist program after March 1 provided there are openings.

What is the Master Naturalist Program?

Extension Master Naturalist program is similar to the Extension Master Gardener program only with a focus on conservation and the environment. The Master Naturalist program consists of:

  • A series of six classes offered on six Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. during April through September.

KENT COUNTY Master Naturalist Program consists of the following classes:

  • Overview of Conservation Theory and Practice
  • Native Plants and Woodland Wildflowers
  • Native Trees and Shrubs
  • Michigan Wetland Habitats
  • Prairie Environments
  • Invasive Plant Species

Each class location varies, but all locations are considered nature setttings around the Grand Rapids area.

OTTAWA COUNTY Master Naturalist Program consists of the following classes:

  • Overview of Conservation Theory and Practice
  • Native Plants and Woodland Wildflowers
  • Native Trees and Shrubs
  • Lakes and Rivers
  • Invasive Plant Species
  • Dunes

Each class location varies, but all locations are Ottawa County Parks and Open Space properties.

Interested in certification as a Master Naturalist?

  • Complete 25 hours of education (six classes)

  • Complete 30 hours of volunteering in an approved conservation setting
  • Pass a take home final exam

If you have any questions regarding the Master Naturalist program, please contact Ginny Wanty at 616-632-7873 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Volunteer opportunities:

Master Gardener Volunteer Opportunities

Kent/MSU Extension “Grand Ideas Garden” (GIG) 
ProjectHands on work in the GIG - see VMS Calendar for dates and times
Location: Kent/MSU Extension Office, 775 Ball Avenue NE, Grand Rapids
Contact:  Daniel Davis .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 813-5659

MG/4-H Youth Focused Volunteer Opportunities
Ada Parks and Recreation Department, Kid’s Garden 4-H Program
Location: Ada Parks and Recreation Building, 1180 Buttrick Avenue, Ada
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), (616) 994-4543
Project: Junior Master Gardener Lead Instructor
The Junior Master Gardener (JMG) Certification program is an additional option for youth.  This will consist of 8 meetings (spread out over spring, summer and fall within the timeframes listed below), and be based on the activities in the JMG Level 1 Handbook.  You will be the lead on this program and have the assistance of the Ada Children’s Garden Coordinator.  A willingness to teach new skills, facilitate educational activities and present to small groups is a must.  This position involves working directly with youth, 4-H will provide any educational/planning assistance as needed.  Specific dates are TBD.

Project: Junior Master Gardener Program Assistant
Assist the Ada Village Kids’ Garden Coordinator for one or more seasonal sessions (dates/times listed below).  Volunteer(s) must have a willingness to teach new skills, facilitate educational activities, assist the Garden Coordinator as needed, and be comfortable working directly with youth.  Master Gardener is encouraged to attend all days, but is not a requirement.  This Master Gardener will also be responsible for filling in for the Ada Kid’s Garden Coordinator in the event that she cannot be present.

  • Spring Session: April 19-June 7 on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m.
  • Summer Session: June 14-Aug. 9 on Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
  • Fall Session: Aug. 23-Oct. 11 on Tuesdays from either 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. or 4-6 p.m. (dependent on school days)
  • Junior Master Gardener Certification Session: requires 8 meeting dates (TBD) between April 19 and Oct. 11 (these dates will take place during the times listed above)

Project: Guest Speakers!
If you have a topic of expertise or interest and would like to share with youth, this is for you!  Possible topics include worms/vermicomposting, bees and pollinators, insects (pest vs. beneficial), soil, organic gardening, etc.  Presentations must incorporate an educational component and are encouraged to be hands-on.  Presentations can take place outside in the garden or inside with access to a projector/screen and a kitchen.

Byron Center Community Center - Indoor 4-H Gardening Volunteer
Project: Lead elementary-aged students through the Junior Master Gardener Curriculum to learn about pollinators, building insect hotels, seed bombs, wildflowers, and more.  Lessons and craft projects will take place indoors; however, students will also learn about preparing and planning an outdoor garden.  Curriculum and supplies will be provided.
Work Sessions: Volunteers are needed each Wednesday, from 5:45-6:30 p.m., from May 4 through June 1.
Location: Byron Township Community Center, 2120 76th Street SW, Byron Center, MI  49315
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Byron Center Community Garden Volunteer
Project: Assist elementary-aged students to plant and care for a community garden of herbs, vegetables and flowers.  The Junior Master Gardener Curriculum helps youth to learn sound horticultural practices while engaging in fun, hands-on lessons.  All supplies will be provided.
Work Sessions: Volunteers are needed weekly in June and July
Location: Byron Township Community Center, 2120 76th Street SW, Byron Center, MI  49315
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Chandler Woods Charter Academy
Project: Provide assistance with a sustainable gardening project to teach students about maximizing gardening conditions, plants, beneficial insects and garden maintenance.  This is an ongoing, long-term project.
Location: Chandler Woods School, 6895 Samrick Avenue NE, Belmont, MI  49306
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Heritage Garden with Tribal Youth
Project: Volunteers will lead Native American youth (elementary through high school) through lessons on heritage gardening, food sovereignty and traditional Three Sisters gardens, Junior Master Gardener materials will be used to reinforce specific topics.
Work Sessions: Volunteers are needed each Tuesday throughout the summer, June-August
Location: Meetings will be held in classrooms and gardens in Grand Rapids and Dorr.  Transportation to Dorr will be provided by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi.
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Northpointe Christian School
Project: Launch the Junior Master Gardener Program - Learn, Grow, Eat & Go!  Lead early elementary students (Kindergarten through 2nd Grade) through the Junior Master Gardener curriculum.  Help students learn about plant science, sound gardening practices, nutrition and healthy eating habits.  Curriculum and supplies will be provided.
Work Sessions: Volunteers are needed for weekly, half-hour sessions starting the last week of April, continuing through the last week of May.
Location: Northpointe Christian Elementary School, 540 Russwood Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI  49506
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Ottawa County - Herrick District Library North Branch
Project: Provide assistance with the creation of a community garden at Herrick District Library.  Provide input with design and layout; teach participants basic gardening practices; organize adult and youth volunteers, ages 5-19.  This is an ongoing, long-term project: work will begin in April and continue throughout the growing season.
Work Sessions: Volunteers are needed on a weekly basis: scheduling is flexible.
Location: Herrick District Library North Branch, 155 Riley Street, Holland, MI  49424
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Kent County/MSU Extension 4-H - Kent District Library Kentwood Branch Gardens
Project: Assist the Kentwood Branch of the Kent District Library and 4-H in leading & educating youth and adult library patrons as they care for the sensory and vegetable gardens on site.  Master Gardeners are asked to lead youth and adults every week throughout the summer on Tuesday mornings.  Depending on the number of Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, weeks can be rotated.  Up to five Master Gardeners can be utilized for this project.
Work Sessions: May-September, Weekly-Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Location: Kent District Library - Kentwood Branch, 4950 Breton SE, Kentwood, MI  49508
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Ottawa County/MSU Extension 4-H - Herrick District Library North Branch
Project: Herrick District Library is partnering with 4-H to start a community garden at their North Branch.  They are seeking Extension Master Gardeners to help shape this project, organize the adult and youth volunteers and share their expertise with participating families.  Extension Master Gardeners will teach participants about basic gardening techniques and practices while helping them create a space the entire neighborhood can enjoy.  Extension Master Gardeners will also have the opportunity to teach 4-H youth about the value of gardening through hands-on activities.  Up to five Master Gardeners can be utilized for this project.  Extension Master Gardeners may volunteer for as much or as little as they like.
Work Sessions: May-September
Location: Herrick District Library North Branch, 155 Riley Street, Holland, MI  49424
Contact: Susan Fenton, 4-H Program Coordinator .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 994-4543

Community Focused Volunteer Opportunities

YMCA of Grand Rapids; Mary Free Bed YMCA - Activity Department
Project: Vegetable Gardening, Learning Farm, Veggie Van.  There are numerous projects throughout the year.  Work in the greenhouse and learning farm including working on the Veggie Van - mobile farmers market.
Work Sessions: May-October
Location: 5500 Burton Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49546
Contact: Kathy Koch, Lead Agriculture Specialist .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 855-9680

The Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids
Project: Work with residents to plan the layout/design of the community gardens; work regularly with residents to guide in the process of maintaining a vegetable garden and incorporation educational components.  Multiple Extension Master Gardeners are welcome to volunteer, but would prefer consistency.
Requirements: Spanish speaking is a MUST
Work Sessions: Twice Monthly, 2:00-3:00 p.m., May-October
Location: Villa Esperanza Community Garden - 1446 44th Street SW, Wyoming, MI  49509
Contact: Nicole Grabowski .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (313) 402-8494

Big Rapids Garden Club
Project: Rain Garden - Conservation and watershed preservation.  Maintain and enhance the landscaping and garden on the Riverwalk- a handicap accessible board walk runs along the Muskegon River in Big Rapids.  The rain garden was built to educate the community on the use of native plants and their role in protecting the watershed through water filtration, clarification, prevention of run off and erosion along the river, all while enhancing the landscape.  A monarch waystation has been created within the garden.
Work Sessions: Various Times - Spring - Fall
Location: Riverwalk Project, Big Rapids, MI  49307
Contact: Patti Lemson .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (231) 796-5755 cell (231) 250-3508

Project: Hemlock Park Playscape - botanic educational planting
Playscape is a playground for children and the community located at Hemlock Park in Big Rapids.  Extension Master Gardeners will maintain and enhance the landscaping and garden at the historic site.
Work Sessions: Various Times - Spring - Fall
Location: Hemlock Park, Big Rapids, MI  49307
Contact: Patti Lemson .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (231) 796-5755 cell (231) 250-3508

Holland Community Garden: food for low-income families
Project: Provide hands-on instruction and education to community members of all ages.  Emphasis is on explaining the “hows” and “whys” along with ideas and techniques for gardening.
Work Sessions: April to October on Wednesdays and Saturdays
Location: Holland Community Garden - behind the Macatawa Resource Center at 665 136th Street, Holland, MI
Contact: Barry Anderson .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 399-5117

Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association - Beautification Contest
Project: Offer two instructional classes to area residents who want to participate in the neighborhood beautification contest.  Class content to include very basic soil and plant science as they relate to healthy gardens; plant selection (right plant - right place); mulching; irrigation; basic gardening tips and techniques.  Classes will be held at the Association offices or at Cook Library.
Work Sessions: Two, 1.5 hours classes, ideally late April/early May.  Possible continuing help with area residents
Location: Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, 1260 Grandville Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI  49503
Contact: Julie Niemchick .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 243-2489

The Salvation Army Kroc Center
Project: One day Vegetable Garden Workshop on Saturday, July 15 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. to help community garden plot users, 18 years of age and older, by providing information for growing a successful vegetable garden.  This project requires 2-3 Master Gardeners that can assist a maximum of 24 participants.
Location: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2500 S. Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI  49507
Contact: Megan Lougheed .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 588-7200 Ext. 2010

The King’s Table Ministries
Project: Educating group of up to 8 developmentally/intellectually challenged students ranging in age from 5-26 yrs. to learn weeding, planting, mulching and gardening.  Fully supervised and assisted by King’s Table Ministries’ employees.
Location: May 12, 2017; 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Campus - 860 Crahen Road, Grand Rapids and/or 1146 N. Hampton, Grand Rapids
Contact: Cathy Tyska .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (616) 648-4301

 

Rebecca’s Blog

Rebecca

Visit Rebecca Finneran’s blog at MyFavoriteGardenShops.com

Master Gardener Links

Master Gardener Class

This 2017 class will be held on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Kent County MSU Extension office, 775 Ball Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI  49503 running from late Aug. to early De. 2017.  The cost includes the 1,000 page training manual.  The cost has yet to be determined.

If you have questions or would like to be placed on the 2017 waiting list, please contact Deb Gulick, the West Michigan Master Gardener Program Facilitator at (616) 632-7880 or gulickde.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  We hope you can be a part of this wonderful training in Fall 2017!

Request for Volunteers

Grand Ideas Garden

Follow Grand Ideas Garden on Facebook

Volunteer Sessions in the GIG

If you would like to visit the Grand Ideas Garden you may use one of the following links for a map.
775 Ball Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503