May 24, 2012

Growing Good Kids

Brownsville Downtown Block Event 009

Everybody is familiar with traditional elementary school curriculums, and assumes kids spend most of the day learning inside a classroom. There are exceptions, for education is evolving and adapting to the needs of modern society.
I stumbled upon a very cute group of second grade students from St. Mary’s Catholic School while attending Brownsville’s team better block event. The students were selling plants and organic vegetables. My first thought was they were raising funds for a class project, until I met Melissa Delgado, Master Gardener and Garden Coordinator at St. Mary’s Catholic School. It turns out, these young students take care of a 3,000 square foot garden at school as part of their curriculum. With Melissa’s help, several classrooms are enrolled in the Jr. Master Gardener Program. The goal is to allow for students to obtain a JMG certification by the 3rd grade. According to Melissa, the cost for maintaining this vegetable garden ranges from 1,000 to 2,000 dollars per year, depending on the amount of compost purchased. At the beginning, she said, the money was raised through fund raising events; today, the cost is absorbed by the school’s administration. St. Mary’s is so committed that there is now a “green” committee under the umbrella of the PTA board, entrusted to support and oversee eco related projects such as recycling, and the beautification of the school grounds. In addition, according to Melissa, the school plans to send 5 teachers to San Antonio this summer, for an intense course offered by the Master Gardeners organization where teachers will obtain a special certification.
The garden project not only introduces students to botany, but also teaches them about community involvement through volunteer work. Students participate in community events like Team Better Block, Brownsville, and a part of the garden’s harvest goes to the Works of Mercy ministry operated by the St. Mary’s Church as part of the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank. The Junior Master Gardeners Mission is to grow good kids by igniting a passion for learning, success and service through a unique gardening education.
Do children who learn about the environment, and about the eco systems they share with other living things, grow to be responsible and caring community leaders? I do not know, but it certainly invites us to reflect, and support similar curriculums and positive extra-curriculum activities.
If anybody knows about similar projects happening in other valley schools, or any studies related to this activity, please consider sharing your comments with La Vida Valle.

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About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. I blame the heat and high humidity for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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