Shelby County Master Gardener Volunteers have been spreading buckeye spirit with local children. During the past two Shelby County Fairs held in July and Forestry Field Days held in October, MGVs have assisted children of all ages in making necklaces featuring buckeyes and scarlet and gray beads. Between the two events more than one hundred children have created necklaces following their own designs each year.
To facilitate the process, volunteers assemble kits containing five pre-drilled buckeyes, six scarlet beads, six gray beads, and a thirty-inch strand of waxed cord in a zip lock bag. As a precaution the bags are labeled with a warning against choking and toxicity. When the children come to the table, we empty the contents into a bowl and place a clip on one end of the cord. Some children work on their own, while others are assisted by parents or MGVs. In less than ten minutes they leave wearing a necklace and a big smile.
“The activity grew out of our involvement with the Shelby Environmental Education Consortium,” said volunteer coordinator, Doug Benson. “As part of the consortium, we are charged with having a nature-related craft one day at the county fair. We wanted something fun and inexpensive, and this seemed like a good way to meet that objective and show our ties to OSU. We even had one grandmother ask if she could make a necklace for herself. Of course, we agreed.”
Forestry Field Day is a family-friendly event held in mid-October each year. It is organized by our local Soil and Water Conservation District, with whom we work closely. In 2015 we decided to take the necklace supplies left over from the fair to attract some attention to our display. Since it worked so well, we continued the practice this year. We did encounter a slight problem this year; knowing that we would be making the necklaces, we bagged up the kits in July. Unfortunately, some of the buckeyes became moldy, so we had to wash the beads in bleach water and use new buckeyes. Next year we will know better.
We get our buckeyes from local donors. The beads come from local craft stores, and we purchase the waxed cord from Fire Mountain Gems in Grants Pass. Oregon. Our cost for the beads and cord is about twenty-five cents for each necklace. “The smiles on both the children’s and parents’ faces makes the cost worthwhile, and we have an enjoyable time ourselves. Plus, it attracts people to our informational displays,” said Benson.