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Richard Kersbergen and Vina Lindley helped to facilitate the Science in the Garden field trip for educators to Islesboro on Sept. 9, 2013.

Ryan Martin is the horticulture instructor at Islesboro Central School.

Through a partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Islesboro Central School offers a Master Gardener’s certification for students. Teachers are trained to be able to use gardens and greenhouses as proficiency-based learning environments. This innovative program of Master Gardener certification at Islesboro Central School is the first program of its kind in the state of Maine.

Richard Kersbergen and Vina Lindley of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension organized a Science in the Garden training for teachers to visit Islesboro and learn more about the Master Gardener program for students on September 9, 2013. Unique Maine Farms was fortunate to be able to participate in this visit and training.  A group of educators gathered that day in Lincolnville and boarded the ferry for the three-mile ride to the island. They were transported in the school bus to the school.

Ryan Martin and one of the students welcomed all the educators.  Ryan is the horticulture instructor at the Islesboro Central School.  In the first year of the horticulture program the Islesboro students concentrate on online coursework that focuses on topics relating to agriculture such as plant science, crop science, soil science, and botany.  There are many opportunities to work outside and the year ends with a Master Gardener written exam.  The students grow and produce as much as possible for a student-run market and earn the volunteer hours that are required for a Master Gardener certification.

In the first year that the Master Gardener certification option was offered, one-half of the students enrolled in the course passed the end-of-the-year comprehensive assessment.  Kudos for providing this opportunity for the students should be given to the efforts of Ryan Martin and to Mid-Coast School of Technology which helps to support the horticultural program at the school, and to the Maine Cooperative Extension who provided the pathway for the Master Gardener proficiency to be achieved.