The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s home grounds team hosted its first in-person STEM in the Garden Teacher Training Workshop in Limestone County, Alabama. The two-day event was held at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center in Belle Mina and the Oasis Community Garden in Athens.
Fifteen teachers and outdoor classroom volunteers from public, private, and home and farm-based schools in Huntsville, Athens, Muscle Shoals, Moulton, Florence, and Andalusia learned how to manage outdoor classrooms. Topics included composting, soils, fertilizing, organic production, garden insects, pollinator gardening, plant propagation, rainwater harvesting, and building raised bed gardens.
After completing the entire workshop, the educators were eligible for six continuing education credits through the Alabama A&M University/The University of Alabama at Huntsville Regional Inservice Center. In addition, five teachers from Muscle Shoals Middle School, Straughn Middle School (Andalusia), Harvest 2 Table Farm School, Florence Christian School, and the Covenant Christian Academy (Huntsville) received a turnkey raised bed garden for their school’s outdoor classroom.
Supplies to build a 4′ x 8′ x 12″ raised bed garden included the following:
Teachers also received a curriculum book to complement their current outdoor classroom STEM learning. The total value of the turnkey raised bed garden supplies and curriculum was $400. Turnkey garden supplies were delivered in late August, just in time for fall planting. Urban regional Extension agents also met with the teachers on school grounds to discuss placement and best practices for building and planting the raised bed garden.
The STEM in the Garden Teacher Training Workshop and turnkey raised garden beds were supported by the USDA-NIFA 1890 Institution Teaching, Research, and Extension Capacity Building Grant Program. Alabama Extension at Alabama A&M’s home grounds team at will continue to deliver these workshops during the summer each year. Workshops will rotate across the state to allow more schools, educators, and volunteers to participate.
For more information, contact Extension Horticulturist Rudy Pacumbaba at (256) 372-4266.