By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Students at Anderson Middle School have the opportunity to learn in the great outdoors thanks to an educational grant from the Captain Planet Foundation and the Education Foundation of Martin County.
The Captain Planet Foundation was created to support hands-on environmental projects for youth and awarded $1,137 to sixth grade science teacher Melissa Dubois to be used for her brand new Green Thumb Club.
"Our goal is to create this beautiful outdoor learning center," Ms. Dubois said about the brand new program she will be implementing at the Middle School.
It will be a complete outdoor learning lab where teachers can educate students about insects, climate change, sustainable gardening, even composting via a hands-on approach outside the classroom.
Ms. DuBois is partnering with sixth grade science teacher Kirsi Johnson who received a similar grant for her Native Keepers program through the Education Foundation of Martin County. Together they will be able to create a complete outdoor learning lab with a wide variety of native plants and vegetation.
"Kirsi and I are really excited to start the first outdoor learning lab filled with gardening and environmental lessons that will keep our students excited about making the grade," Ms. DuBois said.
It will offer a complete gardening experience for the students and offer them a plethora of learning opportunities outside the classroom, she said.
It's a natural fit for Ms. DuBois who has a vegetable garden and seeds germinating in her windowsills at home. She loves teaching outdoors and is excited to share her passion for gardening with the students.
The program also kicked off Anderson Middle School's participation in the Green School Program and exemplifies the district's Common Core standards by combining multiple subjects in a real-world learning situation.
"It's a huge part in us earning points towards becoming a green school," Ms. DuBois said. "And gardening is the perfect way to integrate science with reading and math."
Students in sixth through eighth grade will get to learn in the garden during class time, but can also join the Green Thumb Club and play and plant in the garden after school hours every Wednesday.
Ms. DuBois just ordered supplies for the garden, including eight raised beds, tons of seeds, soil, gardening tools and informational books and many of the students can't wait until they arrive and the fun begins on February 19.
"They ask me every day, 'When's it gonna start, when's it gonna start?'" Ms. DuBois said. "I think it's going to be very valuable."
Ms. DuBois is still looking for parents and master gardeners to volunteer for an hour at the after school club on Wednesday and local companies to donate items like stepping stones, pebbles and soil so the students can beautify the gardens.
Anyone interested can call Ms. DuBois at Anderson Middle School at (772) 221-7100, Ext. 209.