|Students at Washington Elementary participated in the Southwest Center for Rural Inititatives "Youth Grow" gardening program.|
Baton Rouge, LA – If anyone knows the mental, physical, educational, and health benefits of exposing youth to gardening, it is Antonio Harris. As a lifelong gardener and resident of St. Landry Parish, Harris succeeded in lobbying the school board to approve the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives (SCRI) newest program, “Youth Grow.”
“Youth Grow” is a children’s gardening program aimed at developing sustainable garden education programs that connect youth to nature, educates them on the benefits of consuming fresh-grown food, and provides interdisciplinary learning opportunities.
The program creates a pathway for increasing and introducing agriculture engagement within the school community. Through the use of lesson plans; students will learn Social Studies, Math, English and Language Arts, Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth Science. The Youth Grow program has been approved at all St. Landry Parish Elementary Schools.
St. Landry Parish serves as a pilot to the full potential of the program, which aims at having raised bed gardens at each elementary school within the ten parishes served by the Southwest Center.
“These gardens give us the opportunities to not only introduce youth to agriculture and gardening at an early age, but also Southern University,” said Chasity Johnson, youth agent in St. Landry Parish.
Students and teachers at Washington Elementary planted cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in their four new raised-bed gardens supplied and installed by the Southwest Center/ Southern University Ag Center.