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Part of agriculture education and involvement in the National FFA Organization is to extend the classroom out to the land to see things grow.
Through two national grants, North Hardin High School’s program is able to move their learning out of the classroom to the outdoors, said advisor John Martin.
One of the grants is called the Food For All Grant. The program is a nationwide grant that provides funding for food production and service-learning. North Hardin received a $2,800 grant.
The school was approached by former national FFA president and a graduate of Hardin County schools, Steve Meredith, to create a garden near the state fairgrounds in Louisville.
Through the grant the school will create a community vegetable garden that also will include bee colonies.
The school’s first involvement will take place on Earth Day when elementary school students will come to the garden to help install the beehives and do some irrigation and planting. North Hardin students will lead this endeavor, educating the elementary students about what basic backyard agriculture can look like as well as talking about production agriculture.
Harvest time should coincide with the state fair and they will be promoting the garden during the national FFA convention. During the summer, students will make trips to Louisville to work in the garden.
Their second grant is a Living to Serve environmental grant. Chapter president Brook Bell saw the grant online and spearheaded the application process.
The $1,600 grant will help students create an outdoor classroom using grass, trees, flowers and plant life native to Kentucky. They also are thinking of using tree stumps for seating.
They have drawn up plans for the landscaping and are waiting for optimal weather conditions to begin the project.
Martin said the project is important to him because he teaches landscaping, a pivotal part of this project. He hopes it will be ascetically pleasing and will be able to give the students an opportunity to participate in hands-on activities.
Future students will be responsible for maintaining the area and continue discussion on what needs to be done each year to keep it looking nice.
The outdoor classroom, located near the greenhouse, will give provide educational opportunities to talk about plant species that are native to Kentucky, he said.
Sophomore George Herbig likes the outdoor classroom project because if students go outside to learn now, the only area they can go to is the bleachers. After this project is completed, classrooms will have a landscaped environment and a place to learn about Kentucky’s plant life, he said.
While the outdoor classroom has yet to be implemented, students already have begun growing some of the plant life in the greenhouse that will be used for this project, advisor Kristen Hall said.
“Anytime you give kids the opportunity to take something that you’ve taught them in the classroom and move out to get to do a hands-on project, it sticks with them and will be something they will learn the rest of their lives,” Hall said.
The upcoming projects involve real-life activities such as planting a garden, planting trees and caring for the lawn — all things students would be doing at some point in their lives, she said.
“We can give them those skills beyond the classroom,” Hall said.
The FFA chapter at North Hardin has grown over the past three years, experiencing the largest percentage of growth in new FFA member in the state last year, Martin said. Also, a third teacher has joined the agriculture department and the agriculture classrooms were recently renovated.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.