Two elementary schools, Knox and Hickory Flat, have formed clubs that partner with the Cherokee County Extension Office's Junior Master Gardeners Program to further students' gardening knowledge.
County Extension Agent Paul Pugliese said the statewide program gives students in kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to learn basic gardening skills.
Volunteers with the county Master Gardeners group who are in the process of earning certification usually coordinate the program and visit schools to give demonstrations to students.
The program is available to any schools that request it. Arnold Mill Elementary, Bascomb Elementary and Chapman Intermediate schools all have garden clubs but are not partnering with the Master Gardeners.
Some of the lessons taught to students through the partnership include basic entomology - the study of insects - and skills such as the best place for a garden, how often to water and what plants are seasonal.
Along with teaching students to love and appreciate nature, the program benefits them because it ties into core subjects such as math and science, Pugliese said.
"It gets the kids outside their traditional classroom setting," he added.
At Knox Elementary in Canton, the Garden Club has been in operation for two years.
Donna Frye said she sponsored the club while she taught at Hasty Elementary in Canton before Knox opened in 2008.
Mrs. Frye, who completed her certification to become a Master Gardener over the summer, said the 12-member club is working on campus beautification projects and maintaining a campus bird area.
Between the school's wings, the club would like to install raised flowerbeds where each classroom could have its own garden.
"The kids love it," she said of the club and the various projects. The students even have "Grow with the Flow Garden Club" T-shirts.
Hickory Flat Elementary's Junior Master Gardeners Club is in its third year of existence. About 21 students are members of the club, said school volunteer Glenda Thompson.
Mrs. Thompson brought the program to the school because she wanted to improve areas of campus and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach students about gardening.
She approached then-Principal Dr. Kelly Jo Page, who now is at Knox, and was given the green light to begin the club.
Hickory Flat students maintain a garden between the kindergarten and first-grade wings that was "neglected."
Mrs. Thompson said the program is popular among the students.
"They seem to be interested in learning about conserving nature and taking care of nature," she said.
Knox sixth-grader Kayla Nash said she's learned much by participating in the club.
The 11-year-old daughter of Nick and Gwen Witcher of River Green said she has a small vegetable and plant garden at home she helps her mother maintain.
"It's very fun," she said of gardening.
When she saw her friends signing up for the club at Hickory Flat, sixth-grader Wendy Roberts decided to join them.
The 12-year-old daughter of Evan and Tammy Roberts of Hickory Flat said she's enjoyed being part of the club and also has a garden at home she helps maintain.
Not only does the club teach the importance of respecting nature, but she said it also could give students gardening advice to share with their parents.
"The tips will help things grow big, healthy and strong," she said.