Two county middle schools have received grants to learn hands on about gardening and plants.
Meadowview Magnet and Pilot Mountain each received a grant from North Carolina Beautiful, a private non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of natural beauty and resources and the importance of environmental stewardship through various education programs.
Steve Vacendak, executive director of NC Beautiful, presented the checks at a brief ceremony at both schools recently.
Kim Utt and Sherri Hanks, from Meadowview, and Rhonda Taylor, from Pilot Mountain, wrote the grant applications and accepted the grant checks.
During the summer, the student ambassadors from Meadowview attended a leadership institute at Pfeiffer University. This is where they gained the idea for a service-learning project. A service-learning project is defined as a service project that relates the curriculum, involves the community, and meets a specific that is researched by the group.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will follow up on the progress of the community garden project.
The students began their search for grants and found the NC Beautiful grant on the North Carolina Department of Public Education’s website, Character Matters. The website focuses on character, leadership and service, and offers grant opportunities that exemplify these traits.
With assistance from their teachers, the student ambassadors at Meadowview plan to build raised beds on the campus. After they build the six raised beds, they will prepare the soil and plant tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, squash, peppers, potatoes and green beans. The final goal is to have a community garden to support members of the community in need of food.
The students have already received assistance from North Carolina State University. On their first visit, Doug Vernon, green house operations and outreach specialist and Amy Bowman, extension associate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology Education from NC State University, met the students and discussed their plan of action. On the second visit, they will provide a workshop on the planting cycle and being successful in the first season.
The university also provides lesson plans and curriculum connections for all Meadowview teachers in order to utilize the gardens. The ambassadors made curriculum connections with various teachers at Meadowview and will continue to work with them and their classes to utilize the curriculum and have hands on experiences in the garden.
The local students will also continue to collaborate with the local Surry County extension service. They have already provided plans for six raised beds and a sample budget used to write the grant application.
Sixth-graders at Pilot Mountain Middle will utilize the grant money to build an outdoor learning environment in the form of a small greenhouse on the campus.
State learning standards require middle-schoolers to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of various principles related to the Earth’s lithosphere, light energy, and plant processes. In a typical classroom, these concepts can be foreign and difficult for students to master. However, in a setting such as an on-campus greenhouse, students can manipulate variables, perform experiments, and witness the very plant processes they are to understand and explain.
Taylor will be collaborating with cooperating teachers from East Surry and several local community partners throughout the process of fulfilling the grant proposal. Students will be encouraged to explore Agriculture courses of study and future careers, and will have the opportunity to speak with and visit local farms and agriculture sites.
Meadowview received $865 and Pilot Middle received $854.40.