Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Owsley County High’s garden in the spotlight

Mr. Dustin Estridge (Owsley County High School Agriculture Teacher/Co- Coordinator OCHS PRIDE CLUB) and his 5th Period Class along with Sandy Gay (PRIDE Coordinator) and Gary Cornett (OCHS Principal).

Mr. Dustin Estridge (Owsley County High School Agriculture Teacher/Co- Coordinator OCHS PRIDE CLUB) and his 5th Period Class along with Sandy Gay (PRIDE Coordinator) and Gary Cornett (OCHS Principal). (L/R) Sandy Gay, Owsley County PRIDE Coordinator, Mr. Dustin Estridge, Teacher, Bridget Peters, Angela Hensley, Kara Reed, Annie Bennett, Jessica Johnson, Gena Reed, Carl Tolson, Terri Smith, Dalton Price, Delan Reed, Austin Neeley, Noah Shelby, Trevor Lewis, Bradley Kidd, Dalton Price and Principal Gary Cornett. Not pictured: Charolette Thompson, Co-Coordinator OCHS PRIDE CLUB. (Photo Courtesy of Teresa Barrett)

Owsley County High School has attracted statewide notoriety for its community garden, and the latest accolade is a PRIDE award for involving students in construction of a new greenhouse.The school’s PRIDE Club and agriculture students are building the benches that will support the growing surfaces in the greenhouse. The hands-on assignment has earned the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award for January.“Students are participating in the construction and are benefiting through project-based learning with mathematical concepts, such as measurement and bench design activities,” explained Dustin Estridge, who is the school’s agriculture teacher.

“After construction, students will benefit from the benches by enhancing our greenhouse lab to give students an opportunity to learn employability or entrepreneurial skills to commercial standards,” Estridge said.

Estridge is leading PRIDE Club members in their greenhouse project. He and Charolette Thompson, the school system’s food service director, co-sponsor the service-oriented PRIDE Club, which explores why and how to take care of the environment.

Estridge thanked Jack Amis, a community volunteer, for helping make the project possible, along with the Owsley County Fiscal Court and county garage workers. PRIDE contributed $250 to buy materials to build the benches.

“I commend the PRIDE Club members for their hard work and Mr. Estridge and Ms. Thompson for their leadership,” said Sandy Gay, who presented the award. She is a PRIDE Board Member and the program coordinator for the Owsley County Conservation District.

“Greenhouses make great outdoor classrooms where lessons come to life for students,” Gay said. “Mr. Estridge already integrated reading and math activities into designing and building the greenhouse. Soon, it will be full of plants, and students will be able to observe their life cycles, instead of just reading about that, and they’ll use math skills to monitor and record plant growth.”

“The greenhouse will be a valuable addition to the school’s garden, where students grow food for their cafeteria and community members tend their own plots,” Gay said.

“This garden has been such a success story, and it’s really put Owsley County in the spotlight,” Gay added. “Other schools and communities are looking at Owsley County and asking, ‘How can we do that?’ It’s great to be out in front, leading the pack, on such important issues as good nutrition, environmental education and sustainability.”

The Kentucky Association of School Administrators featured an article about Owsley County High School’s garden in the Winter 2012 issue of the Kentucky School Leader magazine. The article quoted Louisville Chef Jim Whaley, who works with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to connect schools to farms, as saying, “I have visited several districts around the state, and I have not seen a Farm to School program as advanced as what I have observed in Owsley County. The collaboration between the high school agriculture program and the food service director has resulted in the largest quantity of garden-fresh, wholesome food I have ever observed served to students in any school cafeteria that I have visited.”

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. PRIDE presents one award each month to a school within the 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.

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