Students in Wylie High School’s horticulture class aren’t just learning about plants this year.
They are planting them, watering them, fertilizing them and soon hope to be selling them thanks to the district’s new greenhouse.
“It’s been great,” said Wylie ag teacher Ashley Stegemoeller. “Before, they had to do everything from the classroom. This year is the first year that we are going to get to do things hands on.”
The new greenhouse is located just west of the tennis courts. It was finished at the end of September and came as a surprise for the 25 students in the horticulture class who didn’t know they would be getting a greenhouse when they signed up for the class last spring.
“It was a good surprise for these kids that we were going to be able to do things out here,” Stegemoeller said. “We are hoping to strike up a lot more interest in horticulture.”
Student Coltyn Cook said he had no idea the district was getting a greenhouse when he signed up.
“I saw it being built in the summer,” he said. “I got pretty excited when I found out we could grow flowers.”
Students have already been getting their hands dirty.
“We do a lot of watering and transplanting,” Coltyn said. “One time we grew our own beans just for fun. We have done some soil experiments and PH level experiments.”
The new greenhouse not only has a heating system to keep the plants warm in the cold winter months, but it has a wet wall, that draws in air and helps keep humidity in the building, especially in the hotter months.
“We are going to be putting in an irrigation system,” said student Briana Westbrook. “We are still in the process of putting it all together.”
Both Coltyn and Briana said the greenhouse makes learning much more fun.
“This is hands on,” Coltyn said. “Personally, I learn better when I can actually do it and see, oh this is how it works.”
“It’s more interesting, and so you pay attention to what you are doing,” she said. “We take pride in it. We care about what we are growing.”
The class will be growing flowers, herbs and vegetables this spring, and then hope to have a sale that will be open to the public.
“We will plant plugs in the fall and in late winter to have a spring sale,” Stegemoeller said. “We will have a sale with everything that we produce in here.”
She said the greenhouse offers so many teaching opportunities that aren’t possible in a classroom.
“When we teach the things that can affect plants, we can do scenarios, and they can actually see it,” she said. “There’s more interactive learning. A lot of the kids look forward to getting to come out here. It’s definitely hands on learning. We want them to see it – not just hear it.”
Briana said maintaining the greenhouse and the plants is hard work but worth the effort.
“It is a lot of work, but it’s fun,” she said. “It’s exciting when you actually see things growing.”