What’s Working: Learning in nature’s classroom

What's Working

DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) — In tonight’s What’s Working, we take you inside a unique career-tech program at Daphne High School. It’s called AgriScience. The students are learning more than just reading and writing. Their classroom is outdoors in nature’s classroom. It’s all about hands-on learning. They tend to plants in several large greenhouses on campus and have planted a pollinator garden. They even take care of farm animals like chickens.

Student Jassmine Morrison says her AgriScience class is her favorite.

“We can go outside and work with our hands. We won’t have to sit in a classroom and learn about things. We can go outside and experience them.”

Instructor, Dr. Elizabeth Anderton says most students will not find a career in agriculture, but the skills they are learning will be ones they can take with them forever. 

“Just the idea that it’s so doable. It’s not expensive and it’s fun. Just the job of watching something grow, They will take them forever.”

Some of the fruits and vegetables the students grow will be donated to Prodisee Pantry. Anderton says the classes are very task-oriented. The students have to complete projects, even during holidays and summers. If not, the plants will die! She says it’s amazing how much pride the students take in what they are growing.

Anderton says they are always looking for help from the community with supplies. Here is a list of some of the things they are always looking for: shovels, hoes, and wheelbarrows, dirt such as compost, soil, and topsoil, mulch such as wood chips, gravel and large rocks to line the ditches and lay in the greenhouses. They are also looking for additional sponsors to help purchase and complete their cedar fence.

If you have supplies to donate, you can contact Dr. Elizabeth Anderton at ekanderton@gmail.com.

Anderton says they are also thankful for the many grants the program has received.  This is a list that she sent WKRG about where the grant money is being used.    We are copying it verbatim so that you can see all of the community partners who have helped out! 

1. Starlight from Baldwin EMC – 3 grants about $1000 each
-Irrigation for our gardens the students put in.
-100 bare root maple trees to be potted and sold at our spring plant sale
-Soil blocking materials and native plant seeds to grow. Also a monthly seed box of surprise seeds

2. EPA – 25,000 to manage stormwater and reduce runoff into the Tiawasee. Ashley Campbell, the environmentalist with the city of Daphne, wrote this for us. She has been the real drive behind this project but our lead engineer Wade Burcham has offered all of his services for free along with teaching my kids how to create and read topographical maps, and Master gardener Mary Hamilton has worked tirelessly helping us propagate native plants and coordinate proper placement on the grounds to help stabilize our soil. Our career tech director, Julia Bryant, has made sure we have a working tractor to complete our projects.

3. FFA Living to Serve Grant. This has allowed us to grow the vegetables for Prodisee Pantry which we hope to have ready for harvest by Christmas. Mr. Stewart’s construction class built all of the beautiful wood beds and irrigated them. 

4. Taziki’s HOPE grant. My greenhouse classes grow herbs for Taziki’s and send them to the special education classes to clean and weigh and bag. These proceeds go towards projects for the special education classes and it provides a purposeful connection between my classes and Mrs. Paissant’s special education classes while at the same time teaching valuable, relevant career skills to all of the children.

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