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The Learning Center’s Environmental Stewardship class caps successful gardening season

As the school year winds down, students at The Learning Center can really see how their work has flourished in the revitalized garden behind the Price Road building.

The finale of the semester was to add native Kentucky plants that will attract monarch butterflies, insects, birds, and other pollinators to help the vegetables thrive. The Environmental Stewardship class braved mid-May’s hot sun to plant milkweed, tall ironweed, purple coneflower, blazing star, boneset, yellow baptisia, and other prairie staples of various heights.

In the past 100 years, increasing pollution, broad-spectrum pesticides, and homeowners’ overuse of chemicals have made life challenging for small animals. “People today are very conscious of shifting the playing field back in favor of pollinators,” said Jamie Dockery, a horticulture agent with the Fayette County Cooperative Extension Service.

Dockery, colleague Carrie Spry, and a handful of master gardeners guided the TLC students throughout the spring – providing hands-on lessons, advice, and supplies for the campus garden. In partnership with the cooperative extension, TLC also hosted a “Growing Community” event earlier in May, where students led backyard gardening demonstrations and handed out starter kits to neighborhood families.

The class members were proud of their efforts and accomplishments.

“This entire thing was completely empty when we started,” said junior Wil Rodriguez, pointing toward the expansive outdoor area tucked behind the school. “The master gardeners really helped us, and the woodshop club (which built the raised beds). In two to three months, this is the result.”

Freshman Belle Mumford, who liked learning about food’s role in the economy, cited broader benefits of the class projects. “We all have worked together. It’s taught us teamwork and showed me how a job works,” she said, taking a break in the shade.

While Environmental Stewardship focused on gardening since March, the afternoon class also covered topics like recycling and sustainability, and TLC plans to add composting and rain barrels. Bryan Kennedy, who co-teaches with Phil Lee, said this class equips high school students for the future.

“First off, environmentally, we’re talking about how to live sustainably,” Kennedy said. “Then there’s the aspect of having a home garden and making good food choices. The ultimate goal is to get students connected with community members if they’re interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, sustainability, or environmental fields.”

From Fayette County Public Schools

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