Sunday, July 27, 2008

Teachers go to class in the garden

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Don't let them fool you, kids.
Teachers get shushed too when it's time for them to pay attention.
It took some effort to refocus the 24 teachers after break time during the July 23 class at the Bell County Extension Office. Their excited chatter was focused on the morning's activities.
From 14 area schools, the teachers were there to learn from Bell County Master Gardeners. Covering topics from vermiculture to rain water harvesting, class sessions started July 22 and continued through July 25. It was the second annual Junior Master Gardener Teacher Training.

On July 23, the teachers listened to programs on composting and earthworm bin construction. They also learned about www.freecycle.org, a Yahoo-based service that lets users give and get items for free. Presenter Raymond Marr said the site's a good resource for fencing and border materials.
'They're here to learn garden and nature projects they can take back to the classroom,' said Mary Ann Everett, event organizer. 'They'll leave with a lot of ideas and resources to offer their students.'
There were several incentives for teachers to participate in the program.
'It's mainly personal interest that made us want to come. We were interested in learning what we can,' said Inda Nesby from Sparta Elementary School in Belton. 'It counts as in-service hours, and our principal paid the cost for us to come.'
The cost was $200 per person, but Master Gardener Ilene Miller said that sum covers four days' worth of food and satchels full of supplies to go to the schools.
It was the local community and Master Gardener volunteers who financed the bulk of the teacher-training program.
'A lot of clubs got involved and donated a lot of money,' Ms. Miller said. 'This is only our second year of doing the teacher training, so we feel like this is good progress.'
Altrusa International of Temple Inc. is sponsoring six schools for the 2008-09 term. The $1,500 the group provided will fund a garden curriculum for each school plus the set-up of several compost heaps.
The Medical Alliance of Bell County, Keep Temple Beautiful, Starbucks, the Belton H-E-B, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Clearwater District also donated funds for teacher resources in garden curriculum.
'We had a great turnout this year,' Ms. Miller said. 'And great community response. We look forward to next year.'
Groups interested in donating supplies or teachers interested in signing up for next year's teacher training should call the Bell County Extension Office at 254-933-5305.

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