by Nicki, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Students from Richmond Technical Center’s Horticulture Department came to the Garden for a Grow Works program. The students visited for an extensive tour of our facilities, specifically our greenhouses. Chris Jones, the new Horticulture department teacher, has been working on renovating the Tech Center’s greenhouse, which will be used for germination and housing the many horticulture projects they will be working on. Their greenhouse will assist them with their spring plant sale efforts as well as a self-sustaining grounds-keeping relationship their horticulture department has with their school. The spring plant sale is in April (date TBA) and proceeds go to the student account on our campus for the Future Farmers of America program. Chris is a familiar face to us here at the Garden because he worked here in 2011 setting up the Orchids Galore! exhibit and acted as an interim Conservatory horticulturist)
While on their tour, the students were exposed to a handful of professionals, including horticulturists, gardeners, researchers, and educators. I was impressed with the questions and conversations the students had; it is apparent the hands-on approach to education creates an unabashed inquisitive mind that I find refreshing. I was also impressed by their receptivity and eagerness to get down and dirty for the volunteer service component. Volunteering during a the Grow Works program compensates the cost of the educational component of the program so the students had a great field trip at no cost to the school. The volunteering activity for the day was helping with bedding change outs in the Children’s Garden. These students worked hard and got dirty — and liked doing it! I believe this is a characteristic that is shaped by the unique educational approach at Richmond Technical Center. An applicable vocational avenue for youth is a great way to prepare them for “life after high school” and entering the workforce. Hopefully Richmond Technical Center Horticulture graduates will be thinking of us in their future because they have proven to be great people and hard workers.