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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA helps make garden dreams come to fruition

A+purple+snap+pea+flower+blooms+in+the+UA+Community+Garden+on+January+15.+UA+students+aided+in+the+construction+of+community+gardens+for+six+schools+across+Yuma+County+provided+with+by+project+grants+for+education.
Lauren Renteria

A purple snap pea flower blooms in the UA Community Garden on January 15. UA students aided in the construction of community gardens for six schools across Yuma County provided with by project grants for education.

The UA helps provide learning opportunities for Yuma County schools by getting kids quite literally closer to the roots.

The UA’s Yuma County Cooperative Extension Program helped make a project come to fruition with grants to build gardens in six schools across Yuma County. The project grant works to promote learning about the environment and science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The UA’s YCCEP paired with the Yuma County Superintendent of Schools, the Education Foundation of Yuma County and the Yuma County Health District to make these gardens a reality for grade school children. In total, the grant distributed by two organizations was counted at $14,000.

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona contributed $8,400 and the Yuma Community Foundation provided $5,600, the rest of the grant. An extra $300 was given to the project in community donations.

The grant was distributed to Valley Horizon, Rancho Viejo, Palmcroft, Centennial, Rolle and Carver Elementary Schools. The grant was divided among the schools based on need. Along with the grant money, the schools were also equipped with UA students to help with the building process of the school gardens.

Stacey Bealmear-Jones, the UA Extension Program’s associate agent in urban horticulture, worked closely with the project and described its goal along with what the gardens contributed to the schools.

“For the UA students, it gave them an experience with other students that they usually wouldn’t be working with—it teaches them a lot about gardening,” Bealmear-Jones said. “The project also gets the kids excited about eating their vegetables.”

As part of the project, UA students were given the opportunity to help build the gardens at the schools.

The 18 students involved in the building the garden attended weekly, three-hour sessions during the fall semester to enhance their knowledge of gardening in order to provide aid to the design and construction of the gardens. The students also participated in the harvesting and preparation of vegetables, according to Bealmear-Jones.

Not only were the grade schools heavily impacted by the implementation of the new gardens, but UA students also had a new opportunity while working on the project with the kids. During the fall semester, students also were involved in teaching grade school children about plants and their environment.

Nelly Rabago, an agriculture technology management junior, recalled her experience and the way the program taught her how to better communicate and understand the kids she was teaching. Rabago instructed a class of fifth graders during the project.

“We went through a class that helped us talk to them in a way that they could understand,” Rabago said. “But, I was shocked — they knew a lot of what we were talking about. I was really impressed because they knew more.”

While the project was geared toward promoting STEM fields to grade school students, it also played an important role in teaching kids about the environment. Bealmear-Jones also said that this project emphasizes the significance of food agriculture and the role it plays in everyday life.

“It’s really important that they understand the importance of agriculture,” Bealmear-Jones said. “This allows them to better understand where their food comes from.”


Follow Lauren Renteria on Twitter.


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