Extension Brings Gardening to Blue Ridge Elementary School (BRES) Pre-K

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A big part of why I chose to go into a career in agriculture are all the memories I made during my childhood experiences growing vegetables on the farm. Some of the classroom activities that I experienced as a youth in school also contributed to my love for agriculture. For instance, I still remember the activity in elementary school where our class “dissected” green beans and corn seeds. N.C. Cooperative Extension of Yancey County recently conducted a series lessons with Pre-K students at Blue Ridge Elementary (BRES), making efforts to help them learn about gardening, learn about plants, incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet, and hopefully help students make memories to last a lifetime.

children planting vegetable plants

Jazlyn Swain, Yancey County Extension 4-H Program Assistant, leading BRES Pre-K students in a planting activity.

Earlier in late April and early May, N.C. Cooperative Extension of Yancey County led lessons as part of the “Learn, Grow, Eat, Grow” program. These lessons taught Pre-K BRES students about the parts of the plant (leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds), what plants need to grow (water, soil and sunlight), and introduced them to the world of gardening. The students had the opportunity to plant lettuce and carrots in their own classroom container garden. They also seeded watermelon and cantaloupe plants, cared for them for several weeks while they watched them germinated and grow, and were able to take a plant of each home to transplant into their own home garden. Each lesson also included a supporting story book that supported the lesson theme. Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and staff had the opportunity to read these stories to the students. The students also had the opportunity to make their own recipe using fresh fruits or vegetables, and taste the outcome of their efforts as a part of each session.

reading to kids at story time

Niki Maness, FCS Extension Agent in Yancey County reading the gardening story for the day

child smiling with food

Students got to make their recipe out of fresh fruits and vegetables, and try them once they were finished

student watering plants

Yancey County Agriculture Extension Agent, David Davis assisted students in planting the classroom container garden

In all, up to 18 Pre-K students learned how plants grow, go to experience hands-on gardening, were able to make their own recipe using fresh fruits or vegetables, got to taste healthy recipes, and spent time with a caring volunteer or staff member during story time. We have heard from several grandparents and parents that several of the students wanted to be more involved in planting a garden at home. Other students expressed interest in helping with a meal, or wanted to include fruits and vegetables that they had tasted at school into a meal at home. Overall, N.C. Cooperative Extension of Yancey County has helped these students to learn more about garden, eating healthy, and has helped students make great memories in the classroom. This program would not have been possible without the collaboration between N.C. Cooperative Extension of Yancey County, NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteers of Yancey County, and the Pre-K teachers and staff at Blue Ridge Elementary School.