May 14, 2010 - "Learning in the greenhouse" - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

May 14, 2010 - "Learning in the greenhouse"

On a warm spring afternoon kindergarten and pre-k students at Hammond's Woodland Park Early Learning Center troop into their greenhouse. It's real-time gardening.

SLU Student Teacher Reneisha Cherry says, "The greenhouse is just to allow the students to come in and actually get a hands-on chance to work with the plants and be able to actually plant them and watch them grow."

The project was dreamed up by two professors of education at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Professor Camille Yates explains, "The grant is intended to foster the idea that you can grow your own vegetables and survive a hurricane or the aftermath of a hurricane."

Hence the name of the program, Cooking Up a Storm--learning how to feed a family when the stores are closed and the power is off. Of course, the kids are finding it great fun. Principal Wanda Davis told me, "It's exciting. The first day that we came out, and we told them that they could dig in the dirt, that was just an awesome experience for them."

In this garden there is--to steal a phrase--no child left behind. "We're very inclusive here at the school" says Prof. Colleen Klein-Ezell. "The children with special needs work hand-in-hand with children who don't have special needs. And really when you get them together in the greenhouse, you can't tell--all kids are the same."

The ultimate goal is to publish a cookbook to be called Cooking Up a Storm, filled with recipes which won't require electricity.

The Woodland Park kids are learning more than how to grow plants. They are learning math, science, nutrition and how to work well with others. Oh, and that greenhouse? It was built by the Hammond Kiwanis Club.

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