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Master Gardener grants awarded to three schools

Educators from three LCPS elementary school have won grants from the Lenoir County Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer Association that will allow them to grow students’ knowledge of the environment and the life cycle of plants.

The grants, of up to $400 each, were awarded to teams from La Grange, Northeast and Pink Hill elementary schools at the Master Gardeners’ holiday celebration Tuesday night at the Lenoir County Cooperative Extension Service office.

 Seven women pose in front of a tractor made of cardboard.“We are very proud to be able to give these teachers well-deserved grants to help them with their projects,” said Pat Bizzell, a Master Gardener who chaired the group’s grant committee. “We were really impressed with this group (of winners) this year.”

The La Grange Elementary grant, submitted by fifth-grade teacher Alicia Davis and digital learning specialist Kristin Stroud, will create sustainable raised garden beds for each of the school’s homerooms that “will provide clear, real-life examples of the interdependent nature of our food ecosystem, and the valuable services that pollinators provide to human society,” according to the grant application.

Part of the beds will be dedicated to vegetable production and part will be reserved for native plants that improve pollination and sustain the bee population. The project also aims to teach students how to grow plants from seed and transplant them in a garden. “Our hope is that each of our 500-plus students can take home a plant of their choice to grow in their own container garden,” the application reads.

The Pink Hill Elementary project – created by teachers Brenda Griffin, Allison Whitfield, Leigh Anne Hall, Brandy Hardin and Jennifer McLawhorn – builds on the resources the school already uses to connect students to plants and animals.

“Using the funds awarded, we intend to update, maintain and utilize our existing grow beds and greenhouse to grow vegetables for our rabbits and chickens who currently reside on our campus,” the teachers wrote in their grant application.

“Students will benefit from participating in the process of planting, nurturing and harvesting vegetables and working cooperatively to accomplish a common goal of growing a food product for another living creature.”

The Northeast Elementary application – submitted by teachers Rubi Blancas, Tiffany Mason, Robin Cobb and Vicky Grady – touts gardening as a tool for teaching math, science and vocabulary.

The grant funds will allow each student to grow a flower, a vegetable and an aromatic plant in recycled bottles for the purpose of charting changes in height, color, texture and other characteristics.

“They will be able to follow the progress of the different plants using a Google web page that will allow them to record information related to growth changes,” the application reads. “Student will be encouraged to explain their main findings by using graphic organizers. Team will create a final presentation or video using their iPads.”

The project will utilize a greenhouse the school acquired through a grant last year.

Photo caption:

At the awarding of 2021 grants from the Lenoir County Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer Association are, from left, Alicia Davis and Kristin Stroud of La Grange Elementary School, Leigh Anne Hall and Brenda Griffin of Pink Hill Elementary School, Pat Bizzell of the Master Gardener Association, and Rubi Blancas and Robin Cobb of Northeast Elementary School.