Junior Master Gardener Curricula/Program Research Findings

LGEG was developed for the research project described below and was shaped by the data collected by the study. See the research overview and infographic.

Texas Grow! Eat! Go! is a 5 year school garden, nutrition, and physical activity intervention study targeting childhood obesity among
third grade students in 28 Title 1 schools. The study evaluated a child-obesity-prevention model based on the Coordinated Approach to Child Heath (CATCH).

CATCH was enhanced by two Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service programs: Walk Across Texas, and Junior Master Gardener. Each extension program improved the physical activity and eating behaviors of children–both of which are associated with healthy weight.

The home environment was targeted through the two Extension programs delivered by teachers but supported by local Extension agents and volunteers such as Master Gardeners and Master Wellness Volunteers, who could provide a strong family and community connection necessary to sustain the model.

A randomized, controlled trial study was designed by a team of Extension Specialists and researchers from Texas A&M University and the TAMU and University of Texas Schools of Public Health. The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Impact of school-based vegetable garden and physical activity coordinated health interventions on weight status and weight-related behaviors of ethnically diverse, low-income students: Study design and baseline data of the Texas, Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG) cluster-randomized controlled trial

Evans, A., Ranjit, N., Hoelscher, D., Jovanovic, C., Lopez, M., McIntosh, A., Ory, M., Whittlsey, L., McKyer, L., Kirk, A., Smith, C., Walton, C., Heredia, N. I., Warren, J. (2015, September 13). Impact of school-based vegetable garden and physical activity coordinated health interventions on weight status and weight-related behaviors of ethnically diverse, low-income students: Study design and baseline data of the Texas, Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG) cluster-randomized controlled trial. Retrieved from http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3453-7.

Combined Research Results Infographic PDF

Previous Gardening Experience and Gardening Enjoyment Is Related to Vegetable Preferences and Consumption Among Low-Income Elementary School Children

Evans, A., Ranjit, N., Fair, C., Jennings, R., and Warren, J. (2016, October). Previous Gardening Experience and Gardening Enjoyment is Related to Vegetable Preferences and Consumption Among Low Income Elementary School Children, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48(9), 616-624. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2016.06.011

The Influence of Organizational Culture on School-Based Obesity Prevention Interventions: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Fair, Kayla N., Williams, K.D., Warren, J., McKyer, L., and Ory, M. (2018, June). The Influence of Organizational Culture on School-Based Obesity Prevention Interventions: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of School Health. Vol. 88, No. 6, 462-473.

Using Family-Focused Garden, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Programs To Reduce Childhood Obesity: The Texas! Go! Eat! Grow! Pilot Study

Erica, C. Spears-Lanoix, MA. E., Lisako, J., McKyer, PhD, MPH., Evans, A, PhD, MPH., McIntoch, W, PhD., Ory, M, PhD, MPH., Whittlesey, L, MS., Kirk, A, MPH., Hoelscher, M, PhD, LD, RD., Warren, L,, PhD. (2015, December). Using Family-Focused Garden, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Programs To Reduce Childhood Obesity: The Texas! Go! Eat! Grow! Pilot Study. Retrieved from http://jmgkids.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/LGEG-Published-Pilot.pdf


National JMG Teacher/Leader Survey and Evaluation

Download the full report: Executive Summary JMG Program Implementation Evaluation

Highlights of the report include:

  • Over 85% of respondents stated that JMG has increased youth interest in science. (Cummings and Boleman, 2002)
  • Over 83% of respondents said youth were more enthusiastic about learning (Cummings and Boleman, 2002)
  • Over 85% of teachers/leaders plan to continue using the JMG program with youth (Cummings and Boleman, 2002)
  • 69% of teachers and leaders said that JMG has encouraged students to perform community service projects outside the classroom. (Cummings and Boleman, 2002)
  • Over 63% said youth tried new fruits and vegetables (Cummings and Boleman, 2002)

Third and fifth graders showed more positive attitudes toward fruit and vegetable snacks and an improvement in vegetable preference scores after completing activities from a nutrition gardening currriculum.

(Lineberger @ and J. Zajicek, 2000. School gardens: can a hands-on teaching tool affect students attitudes and behavior regarding fruits and vegetables. Hort Technology. 10: 593-597)

“Children participating in activities from Health and Nutrition from the Garden had improved knowledge concerning the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and demonstrated an increase in healthier snack consumption after the study.”

The Effect of a Summer Garden Program on the Nutritional Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors of Children
S. Koch, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Louisiana State University Research

“…results show once weekly use of gardening activities and hands-on classroom activities help improve science achievement test scores.”

Impact of Hands-on Science through School Gardening in Louisiana Public Elementary Schools
Leanna L. Smith and Carl E. Motsenbocker

Purdue University Research

“Qualitative data also indicated that the students enjoyed the program, shared what they learned with others, and wanted to participate in more JMG and gardening type activities .”

An Evaluation of the Junior Master Gardener Program in Third Grade Classrooms
Amy E. Dirks and Kathryn Orvis

“Eat Your Way to Better Health (EYWTBH) is a garden-based nutrition education program that was conducted and evaluated for 3 years in Indiana third-grade classrooms. Program participants started and maintained their own school gardens as a part of an authentic experiential learning curriculum designed to reconnect youth with where their food comes from and educate about healthy eating habits. Implementation lasted between 8 and 12 weeks and outcomes were evaluated using pre- and postprogram questionnaires. Results showed that upon completion of the EYWTBH program, youth reported a higher healthy food choice self-efficacy, as well as a higher variety of fruit and vegetable consumption. Relationships among the variables were identified and discussed in the context of improving future school garden nutrition programs.”

Eat Your Way to Better Health: Evaluating a Garden-based Nutrition Program for Youth
Hort Tech Website link
Matthew J. Kararo, Kathryn S. Orris and Neil A Knobloch

Texas A&M University Research

“Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on the science achievement test compared to the students in the control group .”

Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students
C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

“…students in the experimental group did significantly increase their overall life skills scores .”

Growing Minds:  The Effects of a One-year School Garden Program on Six Constructs of Life Skills of Elementary School Children
Carolyn W. Robinson and Jayne M. Zajicek

Development of a Science Achievement Evaluation Instrument for a School Garden Program
C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and Jayne.M. Zajicek

Kansas State University Research

A comparison of a Gardening and Nutrition Program with a Standard Nutrition Program in an Out of School Setting
Suzanne A. Poston, Candice A. Shoemaker, and David A Dzewaltowski

General Youth Gardening Research Findings

Research Topics:

  • youth gardening project increased self-esteem.
  • youth gardening project helped students develop a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • youth gardening project helped foster relationships with family members.
  • youth gardening project increased parental involvement at school.
    (Alexander, J. & D. Hendren, (1998). Bexar County Master Gardener Classroom Garden Research Project:  Final Report. San Antonio, Texas.)

Studies have shown that fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students developed better interpersonal relationship skills after participating in a garden program.

(Waliczek, T. & Zajicek. J. (1998). The Effect of a SchoolGarden Program on Self-Esteem and Interpersonal Relationships of Children and Adolescents. Hort Technology (submitted).)

95.8 % rate school gardening is a somewhat successful or very successful teaching tool

92% teachers surveyed requested additional school gardening education for themselves

(DeMarcoL., Relf D., and McDaniel A.. (1999) “Integrating Gardening into the Elementary School Curriculum”. American Society of Horticultural Sciences Journal. April-June 1999)

Gardens in low-income neighborhoods (46%) were four times as likely as non low-income gardens to lead to other issues in the neighborhood being addressed; reportedly due to organizing facilitated through the community gardens.

“Children (in housing project) see it (the garden) as an actual piece of land that they have control over, the have pride of ownership.”

A Survey of Community Gardens in Upstate New York: Implications for Health Promotion and Community Development. Armstrong, Donna. (2000). University of Albany SUNY, New York

Garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children’s knowledge of nutrition and preferences for some vegetables. The results lend support to the inclusion of vegetable gardens within the school setting.

Administrators of future school garden projects are encouraged to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their garden programs.

Morris, Jennifer; Zidenbert-Cherr, Sheri. (January 2002). Journal of The American Dietetic Association.

Gardening has been shown to increase scores on environmental attitude surveys of elementary school children.

(Skelly, S. & J. Zajicek. (1998). The Effect of an Interdisciplinary Garden Program on the Environmental Attitudes of Elementary School Students.  Hort Technology, 8(4): 579-583.)

Additional Resources:
Virginia Tech Horticulture Department compiled list of youth garden research
Impacts of place-based education on student outcomes


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