The project plans for the outdoor learning center for Atchison County Community Schools continue to grow thanks to some grants awards and contributions from various sources.
The project was recently awarded one of the 2019 Annie’s Garden grants in the amount of $3,000. There have been other funds awarded by way of Kansas Farm Bureau and the FFA Foundation.
The funding from Annie’s Garden will be utilized toward construction of a greenhouse that was officially accepted at the February USD 377 Board of Education members.
Vo-Ag Instructor Kayla Bodenhausen said the proposed greenhouse is part of a six-year plan to complete that campus initiated within the past few years and engages pupils and students of all grade levels throughout the ACCS system in the science, technology, engineering, art/agriculture and math learning curriculum. The outdoor campus is located along the western portion of the Atchison County Community Junior Senior High School.
Wanda Small, STEAM teacher at Atchison County Community Elementary School, Superintendent Andrew Gaddis, ACCJSHS Principal Deanna Scherer and ACCES Principal Mandi McMillan and Bodenhausen comprise the Outdoor Learning Campus Committee.
Although in the early stages to obtain needed funds, Bodenhausen said they have had some successful grant writing ventures. The group’s initial exploratory plans for the greenhouse started as a small backyard garden style.
The grant funding has allowed an expansion of a plan for a commercial size greenhouse. The group is hopeful to acquire the necessary funding to have the greenhouse complete by the end of the 2019-2020 schoolyear.
The funding from KFB and the FFA Foundation offered the ability for the FFA Chapter to build five more raised garden beds.
Since the outdoor campus implementation the elementary students have planted seedlings in the classroom for transplanting in the few raised beds initially installed. The harvested vegetables are then consumed in the salad bars at the schools. There are also elements like a bubble rock and native flora to attract pollinators and a covered outdoor classroom with tables and benches on the campus.
Currently there is a pledge on outdoor learning center’s table for construction of a barn to house small farm animals after construction of the greenhouse. Bodenhausen said that is the ultimate goal of the current six-year plan.