Master Gardener Associations all over the state do many great things. Here is a highlight from the 2013 Annual Report:
Green Works is a program developed by UW-Extension, RKMGVs and community partners to teach green industry vocational skills to adults with developmental disabilities, a population that suffers chronic unemployment and is often disenfranchised even within the community.
Racine Co. UW-Extension Horticulture Educator Patti Nagai had offered this program locally with the assistance of MGVs since 2006, but thought it would be of interest to other counties. She enlisted MGVs to develop a Green Works curriculum that others could use, using their expertise as former special education teachers, healthcare professionals or personal experience engaging with adults with intellectual disabilities, and training in therapeutic horticulture through the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program. The Green Works curriculum, completed in the fall of 2013, includes 66 prevocational lessons, 30 wellness lessons, 15 teaching tools, and lesson evaluations.
In addition to developing the curriculum, the RKMGA supported the expansion of the Green Works program into Kenosha Co. The Kenosha Achievement Center (KAC), a non-profit that serves adults with disabilities, embraced the Green Works curriculum and developed a robust prevocational horticulture program with guidance from Kenosha Co. Horticulture Educators Barb Larson and Jeanne Hilinske-Christiansen. MGVs taught greenhouse lessons, urban farming, basic gardening and floral design to KAC’s clients. Management at KAC was astounded by the almost immediate positive outcomes of the program. Parents and guardians of the participants reported dramatic improvements in the attitudes and general well-being of their adult children and wards. Before the season ended, KAC had to set-up a wait list for clients eager to participate in the 2014 growing season.
The wellness lessons added to the Green Works curriculum contributed to the program’s success at the KAC. MGVs had developed the lessons from their experiences providing wellness and sensory garden activities to adults with significant developmental disorders at Lakeside Curative Services in Racine Co., refining them for inclusion in the final curriculum. KAC was able to offer a program that taught participants how to work with and live better with plants through the act of gardening.