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Alabama 4-H > 4-H Blog > Posts > Junior Master Gardener Recognized for Service to Cullman County Youth

Ask the children in Cullman County who Cynthia Tubbs is, and they will tell you she is the “Garden Lady.” For the last eight years, Tubbs has been the driving force for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Junior Master Gardener (JMG) program in Cullman County.

“I’m blessed to work with children and the garden,” Tubbs says. “Junior Master Gardener is a constant in my life and I’d never dream of giving it up.”
Cynthia Tubbs.jpg

Junior Master Gardener
Tubbs started as a Master Gardener before bringing her passion for gardening and children to the JMG program in 2006. She began volunteering at the Child Development Center in Cullman County and has since helped organize programs in four Cullman County schools and two homeschooled groups, which help about 250 young people every week throughout the school year.
Luci Davis, JMG state coordinator, says having an experienced Master Gardener is a benefit Tubbs brings to the program.
“Teachers often don’t have the training in horticulture and if they’re not an avid gardener themselves they are often intimidated by the garden and using it as a teaching tool,” Davis says. “Master Gardeners can come in and assist teachers in those areas that are out of their comfort zones.”
The program aims to meet with children once a week for about an hour during the school day to provide a love of gardening and an appreciation for the environment through hands-on learning experiences. Tubbs has taken on the responsibility of creating lesson plans that reinforce what the children are learning in school and organizing materials for the volunteers every week.
Growing Knowledge
Getting children to put down their “gadgets” and step outside is something Tubbs hopes the program will encourage. “They need to open the front door and use their five senses to soak up nature,” she says.
The program curriculum outlines chapters including plant growth and development, soils and water and landscape horticulture, but Tubbs takes the lesson a step further to show the children the big picture – the farmer. 

“I use the garden to stretch the role of the farmer, to teach the children to appreciate the farmer,” Tubbs says. “I tell the children if it weren’t for plants and farmers we wouldn’t eat.”
Although JMG is designed to teach school children to appreciate their environment, the values commonly trickle over to their families, a side effect Tubbs is more than OK with.
“It not only opens the youth’s eyes, but the eyes of their families,” she says. “It gets them aware of farming, gardening and how to make healthy food choices.”

The Future
As for the future of JMG, Tubbs hopes every school will have an outdoor classroom that provides the children with a space to grow as a gardener and as a person. “With an outdoor garden area the youth can get out there and get their hands dirty,” Tubbs says. “It will give them the opportunity to put what they learn in the classroom to use.”



Luci Davis and Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional agent, Jay Conway nominated Tubbs to be inducted into the Alabama 4-H Wall of Fame because of her unique dedication.

“She works effortlessly to make the program strong, has a true passion in teaching children about gardening and does all this without asking for anything in return,” Davis says. “It was time to recognize all the hard work and time she puts into making Cullman County have one of the strongest JMG programs in the state.”

Conway adds Tubbs’ dedication is what makes her a special volunteer. “It’s amazing the amount of time and effort she puts into what she does,” he says. “It’s unusual to find a person who volunteers that long and is so involved. Junior Master Gardener is one of the best programs in the state because of Cynthia.”
Although aware of her nomination, Tubbs wasn’t getting her hopes up. “I always thought you had to be older and be involved for a long time to be inducted,” she says. “But when I got the letter back saying I had been accepted I was absolutely thrilled and honored.”
Being one of the youngest and the first inductee from Cullman County, Tubbs says it is all the more reason to continue her hard work. “It gives me the extra punch to do even more,” she says.
Written by Casey Whitaker, Extension Communications Intern


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