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Mitchell High awarded Monsanto Grant for Greenhouse

September 30, 2018

MITCHELL — Students at Mitchell High School were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Monsanto corporation to help them establish a greenhouse.

The grant application process began last spring after students completed an assignment related to Gregor Mendel’s pea plant study.

“The students wanted to establish a realistic setting to have a hands-on experience with plants,” said Jennifer Splichal, Mitchell special services director.

Twelve students across seventh and 11th grades were involved in the grant application process. These students are in a group of identified ability learners who identified a need within the community for a greenhouse and sought to fulfill that need.

“That’s what high-ability learning is really about,” Splichal said. “Kids identifying a need in their community and coming up with ways to meet the needs. This is just a prime example of putting it into action.”

The applications went through two rounds of selection over the summer before Monsanto awarded $2.3 million to schools across the nation to help them develop science and agricultural programs.

With the funds dispersed to the schools, students and staff tried to find a location for the greenhouse. The 10 x 24 foot fully enclosed greenhouse will be located west of the shed, near the track. The greenhouse comes in a kit and is capable of withstanding heavy snow loads up to 23 pounds a square foot and is made of shatter resistant panels that can handle up to 70 mph winds. As the school works with contractors on erecting the greenhouse, Splichal is hopeful they can break ground sooner rather than later as colder temperatures begin to freeze the ground. According to the contractors, once the concrete footings and electrical are installed, assembling the greenhouse should be easy, she said.

The goal is to use the greenhouse this year, with the potential to grow fruits and vegetables.

“We already have some raised beds in place where plants could be transplanted during the summer,” Splichal said.

Once the fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest, the schools can use them or find organizations in need of fresh produce.

Splichal said the plan is to implement the greenhouse into curriculum for early childhood through high school. Ideas for early childhood education include seed germination and high schoolers have discussed doing work with aquaponics.

“The good thing about our community is that our schools are close together so everyone has access to the greenhouse,” Splichal said.

Diego Larsen, an eighth-grader at Mitchell, said he is looking forward to adding the greenhouse to Mitchell.

“It kind of means we’re moving up in the world as a school,” he said.

Tucker Hodsden, a senior and president of the Morrill-Mitchell FFA chapter, said agriculture classes at the high school have been extremely limited when it comes to studying plants without a greenhouse.

“It allows us to try new things and opens a new door for experiments,” he said.

A Monsanto representative presented the check to students during halftime at Friday night’s football game against Chase County.

lauren.brant@starherald.com

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