Student garden expansion project – Highland Elementary

by perducoeducation

Student garden expansion project – Highland Elementary

A good education bears fruits in later life. But it can also bear fruits – not to mention vegetables and flowers – in the here and now.

The community of Columbus, Kansas, has experienced this firsthand thanks to a student garden project at Highland Elementary School. Tending soil in the school’s front lawn, students have reaped tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, and more. The garden began as a summer school project for the students of teacher Hilary Rieck. Since that time it has grown to become a school-wide endeavor. (Highland Elementary serves second and third graders, but summer sessions at the school include kindergarten and first-grade students as well.)

Now the successful project has been taken to the next level thanks to the recent purchase of a high-quality greenhouse. Plants can be raised from seed in the structure and then be transferred to the garden when they’re ready. One interesting feature of the greenhouse is automatic temperature regulation: windows open and close based on the temperature within.


The purchase was made possible thanks to support from several organizations, including Pitsco Education. For the company, it was a perfect fit. A project that gives students the opportunity to work the soil and to witness natural processes unfold before their eyes is a powerful form of hands-on, real-world learning indeed. Pitsco CEO Harvey Dean was on hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new greenhouse.


And plans are underway to expand the educational scope still further. For example, a market is planned where families can buy produce and flowers. According to school principal Amber Wheeler, students will be responsible for all aspects of the market – from growing the goods to setting up the stands to handling the money. Additionally, students are growing flowers that might be used to decorate the downtown area of Columbus.

Rieck, who was recently honored as a Pitsco Teacher of the Game at a Pittsburg State University football game, explained the impact of the garden on her students. “It has been great for all of the kids. . . . We can bring them out here and walk around. If they are having a hard day, I’d say, ‘Could you pick me that tomato? I’m having a hard time reaching it.’ And then they would hand it to me and tell me what was going on in their day. It was very stress relieving for many of the kids.”

It seems that the combination of a dedicated educator and a meaningful project bears no end of valuable fruits for students.

For more seeds of inspiration, check out this post with robotics in the garden.


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