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Hunter Nelson plants a seed in a wet cotton ball before putting it in a plastic glove. Tribune photo by Kayla Prasek

Program teaches youth about gardening

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WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County 4-H and the Willmar Public Library have partnered again this summer to teach Willmar area youths about science through the 4-H on Wheels program.

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This year's theme is "Let's Get Growing," which children's librarian Kathy Torkelson said conveniently ties in with the library's summer reading theme.

"Since the theme is 'Let's Get Growing,' we're learning about gardening, plants, soil and where plants come from," program leader Rachel Arnold said.

The program first met June 17, and Arnold gave the 13 students in attendance a crash course on plants.

"We talked about plants in general and what they already knew," Arnold said. "Then we talked about the different parts of plants and what they need to grow."

This week's lesson focused on seeds and soil. The students first matched pictures of seeds to their corresponding fruits and vegetables. Then, they planted seeds in cotton balls inside plastic gloves.

"This shows that it's possible for seeds to grow anywhere, as long as they have everything they need to survive," Arnold told the students.

The students then made dirt cups out of pretzels, crushed chocolate cookies, chocolate pudding, gummy worms and jelly bean "seeds," to teach them about the different layers of soil and what each layer is used for.

The 4-H on Wheels program was created by the University of Minnesota Extension, and this is the fifth year the Willmar Public Library has participated in the program.

"It's good to partner with other community organizations," Torkelson said. "We're educating these kids about other things they may not learn about in school."

The program, which is conducted from 10:30-11:30 a.m. each Monday through July 15 at the Willmar Public Library, is free for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and is made possible by Kandiyohi County 4-H, along with the West Central Ag Sales Association and the sites that have volunteered to teach the program. Other sites also offering the program include Atwater Summer Recreation, Willmar Cardinal Place, the city of Raymond, New London-Spicer PALS, Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA, Stay 'n Play Child Care Center and Healthy Activities for Willmar Kids locations.

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