2022 JMG National Leader Training
DAY 1 GROW Session Speakers

In addition to daily general sessions and keynotes, each day of the JMG National Leader Training features concurrent GROW sessions. Confirmed speakers & sessions are posted below!

Hands in the Garden: Using JMG to create a network of service-based school and community gardens
Deborah Ivie

Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State Extension
The Hands in the Garden program is a JMG program adapted to focus on Service Learning through gardening. This unique program brings together 4-H youth with afterschool programs, senior citizen centers, schools, community partners to solve food security issues in culturally appropriate way. We will take a deep dive into the development of JMG based service learning implementation and the development of an interactive gardening network for youth and the adults who support them in their community gardening work.

Deborah Ivie is the STEM lead and JMG coordinator for USU Extension Youth Programs/Utah 4-H. She has experience working with youth in gardening on a local, county and state level. Her passion for work with youth began as a volunteer, fueled by her efforts with her own seven children. Among other responsibilities, she now mentors JMG efforts in numerous counties throughout Utah.

Hands on with JMG Level One
Lisa Whittlesey

Extension Program Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension,
Junior Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Everything you wanted to know about the elementary level JMG Teacher/Leader Guide, JMG Youth Handbook, Wildlife Gardener & Literature in the Garden. The session will give you in-depth working knowledge of all elementary level JMG curricula and you’ll take part in in hands on of several of popular JMG lessons you could use with a group of kids next week!

Lisa serves as the program director for the International Junior Master Gardener program which currently operates in all 50 states and has expanded internationally through collaborative partnerships with the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, JMG Korea, and expansions through US Military and National Guard projects. She is the author/co-author of nine award winning youth environmental curriculums and her horticulture work and expertise has been featured in over 170 popular press/newspaper articles including Saturday Evening Post, Southern Living, Better Homes and Garden, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Family Life, Texas Gardener Magazine, 7 national children’s magazines, local/regional television appearances and on HGTV. She has been an invited speaker to over 285 regional and national conferences and her recent work has focused on utilizing the Junior Master Gardener program (Learn, Grow, Eat & GO curricula) as an intervention as a part of a 5 year USDA AFRI funded Extension and Research project focused on child and family interventions for obesity prevention. Lisa has been recognized with the 2020 Texas A&M University Vice Chancellor’s Award for JMG/LGEG Team, 2019 Priester Award for Community Program at the National Health Outreach Conference, National Diversity Award USDA-NIFA (2015) National Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Award for Superior Service (1999, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2020) and was the recipient of the 2011 Texas A&M University Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Extension, Outreach, Continuing Education and Professional Development. Lisa was selected as the recipient of the 2011 National Excellence in Extension Award for the Southern Region through the Association of Public and Land Grand Universities. In additional to her work with the JMG Program, Lisa provides leadership to horticulture programming, staff development/management and as a PI federal contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Windham Schools – TDCJ, and with Lee College prison programming efforts. Lisa is a lecturer for the freshman university course AGLS 125, guest lecturer for floral design and socio-horticulture classes at Texas A&M University and does educational videos for the public through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension social media outlets..
In her spare time Lisa enjoys doing floral design, cooking, teaching Bible classes, playing piano and traveling. She is married to Randel Whittlesey and has two grown children.

Hands on with JMG Level Two
Randy Seagraves

Extension Program Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Junior Master Gardener Curriculum Coordinator
Everything you wanted to know about the middle school/junior high LEVEL TWO curricula featuring the novel Operation Thistle, Plant Growth & Development Teacher/Leader Guide and the Operation W.A.T.E.R., Soils & Water Teacher/Leader Guide. The session will not only provide great familiarity with this novel, “Mission Impossible” inspired curriculum but will also include some hands-on of featured lessons in this popular curriculum.

Randy is an Extension Program Specialist & Curriculum Director for the International Junior Master Gardener program. A former 3rd grade teacher in College Station ISD, Randy is the lead author of 8 JMG® curriculum guides, including the new, evidence-based Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! curriculum. He guest lecturers for horticulture and education courses at Texas A&M and has been a guest host for the Weekend Gardener television segment for local CBS affiliate in College Station and regularly speaks at regional, state and national conferences across the country.

Teaching JMG through K-8 School Science Classes
Greg Pitts

Master Gardener & JMG Volunteer of 15 years
This presentation will describe how the Leon County Master Gardeners have incorporated the JMG curriculum into three of the five local school districts. Master Gardener volunteers go into the classroom on a weekly basis to assist the classroom teacher in teaching science concepts related to science and horticulture. This workshop will also focus on how to get your foot in the school door and develop relationships with teachers and school officials to get a JMG program started in the schools. This includes showcasing the quality of the JMG materials and how they relate to the state education requirements for the schools. The Leon County program also includes a hands-on component by incorporating school gardens as part of the learning environment.

Greg Pitts has been a Leon County Master Gardener since 2008 and has actively worked with JMG programs since that time. During that time, he has worked with over 1,000 students in the classroom. He works with science teachers to present JMG programs to the students. He primarily works with elementary and junior high students. He is currently working on adjusting the JMG curriculum to meet the needs of elementary special needs students. He is also a Texas Master Naturalist.

Garden Summer Day Camps in the Garden (or Not): Logistics
Shelley Mitchell

Associate Extension Specialist, Oklahoma State University
Whether you have access to a garden or not, there are plenty of plant-based learning opportunities to do with kids on breaks! Come hear how JMG lessons were integrated into years of weeklong summer JMG camps with kids from ages 6-12. The logistics of it all will be discussed, and we’ll do some activities too!

After 9 years of teaching high school science, Dr. Shelley Mitchell has been involved with youth gardening for 13 years with OSU Extension. As the state JMG coordinator for Oklahoma, she travels around the state helping teachers integrate plants and gardening into the school curricula instead of teaching it as one unit. By using plants all year long to teach different concepts, youth become aware of plants in their surroundings and more appreciative of plants’ roles in their lives.

Kids Growing in Common Ground (Bringing the Garden to the Neighborhood)
Sandy Dailey

Director of Garden Programs/JMG Coordinator, Harvest House Community
Learning Center
Active learning in the Junior Master Gardener program can engage students to learn more about who they are and empower them to be active in the local community. In this session we will discuss: 1) Adapting your Youth Garden for the Junior Master Gardener Program and leveraging community partners like Extension Master Gardeners and diverse Partner Groups; 2) Creating a safe place for Junior Master Gardener classes and having their garden become a common place to grow love and diversity with all ages; 3) Leveraging local resources to determine what the needs of the students are and utilizing all garden elements to draw comparisons between the students and the plants they grow; and finally 4) Matching the needs of the people of the community to the student to grow the students surrounding environment as part of their growing community diversity. The growing of strong kids and sharing their insight with the community will help us all in “”Growing Common Ground””

Sandra Dailey, Director of Garden Programs at Harvest House Community Learning Center (HHCC) @ St. Peter’s in Lebanon IN. She is a state trainer for the Jr Master Gardener program and a member of the INDIANA JMG State Advisory Board through Purdue University for the past two years. Sandy is a Master Gardener and an Engineering Program Manager Professional. She is currently the Manager for “Growing Common Ground Farm” where she manages farmland for the Local Community Food Distribution Garden, and four smaller ⅛ acre gardens for the Black Independent Growers in Indianapolis.

JMG in Native Community Gardens
Reagan Wytsalucy

Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State Extension
Native American people grew crops across America long before European settlement. As time has passed, these crops have been replaced by modern varieties. This lightening session will focus on the importance of heirloom crops and the role they can play in Junior Master Gardener efforts. We will learn the impact of Native American heirloom crops on food scarcity, nutrition, and socio-emotional well-being. The session will begin with the Raegan’s story of her experiences of heirloom crops, and a discussion of how those crops could be integrated into a traditional JMG program. A slide show will introduce the existing projects. Then participants will work in small groups to analyze how they could adapt JMG to integrate local culture and traditional crops into their program.

Reagan Wytsalucy is a member of the Navajo Nation and completed her education at Utah State University in Plant Sciences. She specializes in Horticulture and Agronomy. Her areas of interest include community gardens, field crop management, grazing management, turf management, irrigation management, Native food crops (peach and Navajo spinach), Pinyon Pine production, farmers market development projects. Reagan is the mother of two children.

Grandfriends: Partnering with senior centers in JMG programming
Sage Allen

Program Coordinator, Utah State Extension
There are many challenges to starting a community Junior Master Gardener program: supplies, gardening space, and volunteers. Salt Lake County 4-H has found a unique partner in sustaining a JMG program: Salt Lake County Aging Services. Come learn about how we have combined resources to create a Junior Master Gardener program at Senior Centers in Salt Lake County. We will give you front-seat insight into both our successes and our challenges in this unique partnership.

Sage Allen is the Outdoor Coordinator for Salt Lake County, Utah. Her responsibilities include gardening, horse, livestock and Natural Resources youth outreach. Her spare time is spent with her favorite horse.

2022 JMG National Leader Training
DAY 2 GROW Session Speakers

Get Growing Houston
Marcus Glenn

Houston ISD Area Manager Nutrition and Agriculture
Session will overview implementation of Learn, Grow, Eat & GO in Houston Independent School District through Nutrition Services’ Food and Agriculture Literacy Department. The Food and Agriculture Literacy Department is using the LGEG curriculum to support 16 school based gardens in Houston.

Marcus Glenn leads the Get Growing Houston agriculture education program for Houston ISD-Nutrition Services. Mr. Glenn has an extensive background in urban agriculture education serving as a 4-H Extension Agent in Harris County for 6 years and developing and funding gardening programs for non-profits. With Nutrition Services Mr. Glenn oversees an agriculture education program reaching 20 schools, 16 elementary, 2 middle and 2 high schools and a 6.5 acre educational farm.

Learn to Pilot and Implement Early Childhood Learn Grow Eat & Go!
Tricia Braxton Perry & Yvonne Jacob

 Program Manager, III Youth Horticulture Education Program – University of Nevada Reno Extension
Director of Education, Disabilities & Mental Health at Acelero Learning Clark County, Nevada

This presentation will describe the step-by-step application of piloting and implementing the Early Childhood Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go! curriculum in challenging environments of the Las Vegas Area. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere! This workshop will focus on developing an online, hands-on training session for participants sizes ranging from 3 to 100+, utilizing community partnerships, organizing and distributing curriculum, providing training materials to remote sites and capturing participant data with pre and post evaluation. This will be a hands on-workshop.

Tricia Braxton Perry has managed several UNR Extension programs for Clark County, NV including All 4 Kids and 4-H. In her current position with the Horticulture Department she has designed the Youth Horticulture Education Program (YHEP). YHEP is a comprehension garden education resource for most youth environments including early childhood centers, public and private schools, and juvenile justice diversion programs and residential facilities.

Yvonne Jacob oversees education and mental health services for 13 Head Start Centers in Las Vegas. Acelero has a proven track record of producing breakthrough child outcome gains for children, regardless of income, through their unique outcomes-focused approach.

Skip’s Tips for a Thriving School Garden
Skip Richter

County Administrator & Extension Agent, Horticulture
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Whether your class is growing a raised-bed veggie garden, as featured in the Learn, Grow, Eat & GO curriculum, Early Childhood LGEG container gardens OR a traditional in-ground garden, this session will help to “green up” your thumb! Skip will share some easy-to-implement, practical advice and top tips for establishing/maintaining a student-led garden that will grow & thrive!

Skip received his master’s degree in Horticulture from Texas A&M University, “the source of all earthly knowledge.” He has been with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for 32 years in Montgomery, Travis, Harris and Brazos County where he currently serves as a County Extension Agent in Horticulture.

Skip has gardened in the brush country of south Texas, the rocky hills of the Missouri Ozarks, the acid sands of the East Texas piney woods, the semi-arid climate and high pH soils of central Texas, and the humid, hot climate and black clays of southeast Texas.

He is an enthusiastic student and teacher of natural gardening techniques. He helped develop Extension’s “Don’t Bag It” yard waste recycling programs, the “Composting for Kids” educational web page, and the Grow Green environmental education program which educates Austin residents on landscaping practices that protect water quality.

Skip is a popular speaker for garden clubs, Master Gardener programs, and other gardening events across Texas. He has written a bi-weekly internet column for the National Gardening Association, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles on gardening. His “Gardening with Skip” YouTube channel features over 120 brief gardening videos.

Skip has served as the National Gardening Association’s regional horticulturist for the southeastern U.S. and is a contributing editor to Texas Gardener magazine. He is the host of the Gardening Success radio show in College Station, which is also available by podcast online. His book, “Texas Month-by-Month Gardening” provides guidance on planting and caring for your garden and landscape every month of the year.

2022 JMG National Leader Training
DAY 3 GROW Session Speakers

GROW TOGETHER: The Benefits of Starting A School Garden Program/Club
Rolando Roman

Extension Health/Physical Education/Gardening Teacher, Madison ISD, Mannsdale Upper Elementary
Teachers use gardening activities to teach nearly every discipline, including health, nutrition, science, math, environmental studies, language arts, art, and social studies. Researchers examining how gardening impacts students have found that school gardens–sometimes called “living classrooms”–cultivate more than just plants. Students who participate in school gardens are on average more engaged in what they’re learning, boast higher science test scores, and eat more fruits and vegetables than their non-gardening peers.

Rolando Roman (Coach Ro) is an expert in the exercise science, health, fitness, and wellness industry. He has over 23+ years experience as a coach and mentor to kids and adults. He holds a Bachelors degree in Physical Education from the University of Puerto Rico, where he was a student athlete (Wrestling & Judo) for 4 years and a Masters degree in Exercise Science/Physical Education from Southwest Texas State University.
Coach Ro tries to lead by example and really loves to stay active. He loves to camp, work in his garden, run, hike, ride bikes and pretty much anything that has a little adventure involved. He also believes in the power of mentorship and serves as a program facilitator for a non-profit organization he created, Mississippi Cyclocross Project, a youth cycling outreach program that collaborates with communities, parents, and other stakeholders to transform and empower youth between ages of 4-15. It provides free clinics and training sessions around September-December. They foster a cycling curriculum-based initiative to help develop principles and values, good sportsmanship, attitude, and teamwork among participants.
Coach Ro’s past experiences are Health & Wellness Program Manager Worksite for the University of Texas System, Office of Employee Benefits (13 years) and Corporate Health & Wellness Manager for Applied Materials in Austin Texas (11 years). He also has served as an Executive Health Coach for many business leaders across the country.
Coach Ro has collaborated with Univision (Spanish TV Channel) with their morning show “Good Morning Austin” or “Despierta Austin” together they have established a weekly segment called “To Your Health” or “A Su Salud”. The segment covers health topics from cholesterol, hypertension, men’s health, preventive health and nutrition to name a few.
Coach Ro’s passion is assisting others achieve the lifestyle they aspire by understanding what is important in every person’s life. He’s lifetime philosophy is “moderation is everything–even moderation sometimes.” He believes the key to longevity is a sense of humor, particularly the ability to laugh at oneself.
He’s also very blessed to have an awesome family that he enjoys spending time with them because they are A LOT of fun!

Cultivating Collaboration: Providing Support for Successful Programming Partnerships
Jaden Kelly & Kristina Brown

Better Living for Texans Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
4-H and Youth Development Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
With our ever-growing urban counties in Texas, reaching every Texan can seem like an impossible feat. But we are not alone. By collaborating with like-minded organizations within our community & utilizing each organization’s strengths, we can amplify our impact while maintaining the high standards we pride ourselves in.

Through partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club and The YMCA, AgriLife Extension has played a supportive role in the implementation of the Learn, Grow, Eat, & Go! curriculum at sites throughout the Greater Houston area. We will discuss different aspects in which Extension can assist partnering sites to further strengthen programming efforts.

Jaden Kelly is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio where he majored in Environmental Science with a focus in Restoration Ecology. After two years of restoration work on the Texas coastline with the American Conservation Experience and US Fish & Wildlife Service, Jaden joined the AgriLife Extension team in Harris County as the Imagine Science Program Coordinator. A year later, Jaden shifted positions and is now the 4-H & Youth Development Agent at AgriLife Extension- Harris County.

Kristina Brown is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent with the Better Living for Texans program. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Foods from the University of Houston and her Master of Science in Dietetics from Sam Houston State University. She is a Registered Dietitian with a background in clinical dietetics and nutrition counseling and is passionate about community nutrition education, focusing on serving limited-resource populations. 

Techniques to Effectively Track Program Impact
Brian Faries

Program Director, Office of Data & Accountability
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Is measuring program effectiveness a priority in your district, county or organization? This session will share systems and procedures used to effectively capture, aggregate and evaluate data to interpret the positive and negative impacts of a program.

Brian Faries is the Program Director of The Office of Data and Accountability at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His role is to oversee a team that collects, verifies, and reports agency data to make data-driven decisions and interpret impacts of the agency’s operational and educational practices. His 25 years of experience developing customized data collection and reporting systems spans across multiple industries.

Code Your Garden: integrating STEM
concepts into your JMG program
Deborah Ivie

Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State Extension
This session will illustrate the adaption of JMG activities to teach gardening while simultaneously teaching Computational Thinking concepts. Schools and afterschool programs are being asked to include STEM concepts in cross-curricular integration. This session will share hands-on ideas for enhancing your JMG program with coding and engineering principles.

Deborah Ivie is the STEM lead and JMG coordinator for USU Extension Youth Programs/Utah 4-H. She has experience working with youth in gardening on a local, county and state level. Her passion for work with youth began as a volunteer, fueled by her efforts with her own seven children. Among other responsibilities, she now mentors JMG efforts in numerous counties throughout Utah.

After the Harvest: Preserving and sharing our success
Pamela Van Wagoner

Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State Extension
You have spent your growing season in the garden with youth, and have a bounteous harvest. How can you continue the learning process? How can you use some of your harvest to develop further skills and learn about community needs? This session will introduce you to several Service-Learning options that can be used to provide students with extended learning.

Pamela Van Wagoner works as the STEM and Family Consumer Science Coordinator for Utah State University Extension 4-H in Salt Lake County. She focuses on helping youth to “learn by doing” as they explore their interests while developing leadership skills and engaging in their communities. Pamela believes that youth thrive as they use their interests and talents while learning new content. She applies this philosophy in STEM education as she employs a “STEM by stealth” approach, teaching engineering and computational thinking concepts through traditionally non-STEM activities. Pamela lives in Riverton, Utah and is the mother of 5 children. She loves playing card games, visiting her family’s farm, reading historical fiction and is always willing to go on a road trip. Pam believes that kindness can solve almost any problem and tries to live by the words of the Dalai Lama; “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

When Spheres collide: exploring the ecosystem and agriculture
Meggan Callister

Program Coordinator, Salt Lake County, Utah State Extension
This presentation will provide a hands-on activities teaching youth how agriculture and the environment influence each other. As part of the legislative Informal Science Education Enhancement initiative, 4-H coordinators are taking hands-on challenges into each 5th grade classroom in Utah. These challenges examine the interactions between the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere in an agricultural setting. If this is a lightening session, attendees will work in groups to solve the Farm Stand challenge, learning about grow zones and pollination. If selected for a 60-minute session, we will take a deeper dive into the curriculum, with hands-on experience with Farm Stand and Amazing Grazing challenges, two of our six curriculum components.

Meggan Callister is the Salt Lake county lead coordinator. Her responsibilities include leadership and K-12 outreach through the Utah Informal Science Education Enhancement program. She loves to spend time with her family, and does a great John Denver impersonation around a campfire if it gets late enough!

Culture, Climate, and Crops! Oh, My!: Differentiating for Successful JMG Gardens
Benjamin Scow & Rowe Zwahlen

Extension Assistant Professors

Utah is in the midst of developing a multi-county JMG program through a USDA grant. As a state covering almost 84,000 square miles and an altitude varying from 2350 to 13,528 sq. feet above sea level, there are large climate variations to be considered in keeping a healthy garden.
Community needs also vary strongly, from urban refugee youth to rural communities, with various cultural and community dietary differences. This session will discuss the garden adaptations needed to accommodate the variations, and how we are working to create a cohesive state-wide program while meeting local needs.

Benjamin Scow is an Extension Assistant Professor in Washington County, the Southwest corner of Utah. Experience in orchard production and management, range management, plant identification, and horticulture. His teaching and research interests include fruit production, gardening, small engine mechanics, Rangeland Improvements and Water Conservation. He enjoys working with youth and adults in gardening practices.

Rowe Zwahlen is an Extension Assistant Professor in Emery County, which is located in Central Utah. his focus areas include horticulture, agriculture and Natural Resources as well as 4-H outreach.

Create Your Own JMG Implementation Plan
Randy Seagraves

Extension Program Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Junior Master Gardener Curriculum Coordinator
During this year’s National Leader Training, you’ve learned A LOT about the JMG program, curricula, community partnerships, managing a group, supporting teachers, leading students and sustaining your program for years to come! In this session, you’ll have the opportunity to create a custom implementation plant. Whether it’s for your class, school, your city, county or state – we’ll help you to identify the dream, the steps for achieving goals and a timeline by which it all will happen!

Randy is an Extension Program Specialist & Curriculum Director for the International Junior Master Gardener program. A former 3rd grade teacher in College Station ISD, Randy is the lead author of 8 JMG® curriculum guides, including the new, evidence-based Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! curriculum. He guest lecturers for horticulture and education courses at Texas A&M and has been a guest host for the Weekend Gardener television segment for local CBS affiliate in College Station and regularly speaks at regional, state and national conferences across the country.