NATCHITOCHES – A service project begun by a group of Northwestern State University students in the Presidential Leadership Program blossomed into a victory garden learning experience for NSU Elementary Lab School students.
Earlier in the semester, PLP students worked with Dr. Michelle Morris, professor of educational psychology, to create a vegetable garden to serve university students. Under Morris’s direction, the PLP students planted a variety of vegetable seeds intended to supplement food items available at the NSU Food Pantry.
“After NSU transitioned online, the vegetable plants were given to local children so that they can grow gardens at home,” said Morris, who has worked with several local elementary schools to develop school gardens. Morris contacted Lisa Wiggins, 4-H sponsor at the NSU Elementary Lab School, who has worked with students on school vegetable, herb and flower gardens that attract butterflies and encourage interest in earth sciences.
Educators say gardening lends itself to lessons in several branches of science with math, language arts and other disciplines incorporated into researching and learning how plants grow and where food comes from. It also gets youngsters outdoors and working with their hands. Last year, E-Lab created an aquaponic system in which water, plants and fish work together to grow lettuce in a soil-less environment.
“Since NSU and the Elementary Lab School are continuing online, Mrs. Wiggins encouraged her students to start victory gardens at home,” Morris said. “She handed out the plants to the children when they drove by to pick up their homeschool homework packets. She is getting pictures from her students to document their gardens.”
“The students loved their plants and promised to plant them right away,” Wiggins said. “I look forward to picking this up again in the fall.”
Morris hopes to reconnect with the PLP students next semester and continue with their original plans for a university garden.