Agriculture teacher Angela White and Future Farmers of America student Cody Morell stand next to the new Pleasant Hill High School greenhouse. It took four years to secure funding for the greenhouse, which will provide students with hands-on experience in the agriculture field. Aliya Hall/The Chronicle
After four years in the works, Pleasant Hill High School now has a greenhouse lab that students across the district can use to help embrace the community’s agricultural background and provide hands-on experience in the field.
”Students will ask me, ‘Mrs. White, when am I actually going to use this information?’ It’s an opportunity for nontraditional students who don’t love sitting in a classroom and learn by doing,” agriculture teacher Angela White said. ”Our job is to help launch them into the future and to show different opportunities to set students up for success.”
The greenhouse held an open house on Feb. 8, and students presented techniques in starting and growing ornamental trees and shrubs, bedding plants, turf grass, greenhouse vegetables and related products.
White, who was the project leader for three years, came on after an initial $125,000 grant from the Chambers Family Foundation was secured for start-up costs. The rest of the money was raised through the Education Foundation and from the Pleasant Hill Future Farmers of America (FFA).
Creswell High School doesn’t have an FFA club. Crow, Mohawk and Pleasant Hill are the only schools in the area that offer FFA programs.
”This greenhouse is more than just a group of kids, it’s a school district-wide program,” FFA student Cody Morell said. ”We’ll be having kids from the elementary school planting in here, to high school competitions. It’s a great opportunity for the whole community, really.”
The school greenhouse will be used as a student laboratory, not a commercial greenhouse. Topics studied will include plant responses to light, fertilizer, seed placement, soil preparation, moisture control, disease and insect control, and other growth factors.
Students will receive additional training to enter jobs in horticulture, develop individual ag-related businesses, or pursue additional training at the technical and professional levels.
”It’s going to be nice getting the elementary school involved,” Morell said. ”This is the kind of stuff that they’ll really enjoy doing and learning about agriculture.”
Additional uses for the greenhouse include hosting FFA career development events, landscape design, floriculture, crop selection, horticulture science poster projects, and forestry and nursery development for both elementary and middle school students, as well as high schoolers. Classes already taught include Middle School Ag, Intro to Ag, Horticulture, Animal Science, Leadership and Ag Business.
The greenhouse will also be an opportunity for students to give back to the school. Morell said that the greenhouse will be used to grow fresh produce that the cafeteria can use to save the district some money on food costs and promote healthier diets.
Agriculture is one of the major economic drivers in Oregon, and White said this greenhouse is an opportunity for students to develop and practice career-ready skills and paths directly from high school.
”There are so many jobs in agriculture that don’t require a degree” she explained. ”Agriculture is extremely broad, from growing crops to timber to fisheries to wildlife. Here in our state where we have such a diverse group of ecosystems, really, job opportunities are abundant.”