LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Green thumbed students at South Laurel High School have begun to literally reap the fruits of their labor following the opening of the school’s seasonal greenhouse on April 19.
Built originally in 1979, the South Laurel greenhouse gives students the chance to raise funds for extracurricular activities, give back to the community, learn fundamental planting skills, and spend more time outside.
“I love teaching it. Very few kids take (the greenhouse class) and don’t like it,” said Jason McWhorter, agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor. “They seem to enjoy the hands-on experience. Planting a seed and watching it grow is something they all seem to enjoy.”
McWhorter went on to explain how the greenhouse project and class isn’t necessarily a “pencil and paper” type course. This aspect is all the more welcoming to non-traditional students, who are more apt to working with their hands, he explained.
“We do pencil and paper work, yes, but the course is all about the hands-on experience,” McWhorter said.
Courtney Marcum, a senior at South Laurel High and an officer in the FFA, is just one of many students who finds she gets back exactly as much as she put into the greenhouse.
“I like being around the plants and enjoy selling them,” Marcum said. “It also teaches me a responsibility – you have to be responsible when you’re growing and learning about them.”
Along with growing plants and flowers, students also sell the plants to the public. Flowers, potted plants, hanging baskets and hanging bags of many varieties are all sold by students, helping fund class trips, buses for field trips, horticulture classes at farms and next year’s greenhouse.
“Over the years, we’ve built relationships with customers in the community,” McWhorter said. “These people come back year after year. The best part is seeing former students come back to shop at the greenhouse, all married and buying their own plants and tomatoes.”