Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies (RMS-CES) has implemented a school-wide agriculture program, with all students in grades 5-8 involved in a quarter long agri-science class. Four years ago, RMS-CES became a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) magnet school with an environmental focus, and we have been busy creating a School Forest, two rain gardens, and a grape arbor. With these projects, RMS-CES has formed partnerships with organizations that have helped create practical plans and sustainable plantings. The school has worked with Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and the Department of Natural Resources. RMS-CES has a mission for outdoor and environmental education that is connected to our content area classes.
Why build a greenhouse? The outdoor agri-science learning experiences at RMS-CES are great experiences for students, but many are limited to the warmer months of the Minnesota climate, with as much as 2/3 of the school year during months where outdoor gardens are dormant for the winter. Building a greenhouse provides year-round opportunities for students and allows for sustained, year-round gardens. A greenhouse facility would provide a unique learning environment for students for many years to come. The greenhouse would provide learning that fits with the school’s mission: students are empowered to become innovators through engaging, authentic, and developmentally appropriate opportunities, access to a strong academic foundation, and a commitment to lifelong learning.
How will the greenhouse impact the lives of students, and how will it benefit
- Students will be part of creating a unique garden each year at RMS-CES
- Students learn life-long skills that will follow students for years to come
- Classroom lessons will be based on the season and type of planting
- The greenhouse and gardens will be shared with members of the community, after school and summer activity groups, and students.
- The garden plot will be built into Community Education classes offered by our school district.
- Fosters knowledge about healthy eating
- The agri-science teacher will continue to develop the facility and the curriculum that utilizes the greenhouse
Students using the greenhouse-classroom will have the opportunity to learn about gardening techniques and will be responsible for planting, weeding, and harvesting their fruits and vegetables in their Agri-science classes. They will learn about growing cycles, Minnesota’s agriculture history, career options in agri-science, as well as food and nutrition. Our school and community will also be involved with adding features to the garden in future years, such as potting stations, greenhouse space, sheds for tools, and other structures. This project will create an outdoor classroom for student use for many years.
Have other funds been raised? What is the Foundation’s funding goal? $50,000 has been raised towards construction of the greenhouse through grants secured by the Rockford Area Schools. The goal of the Rockford Education Foundation is to raise another $8,000 from the event, with possible additional fundraising efforts in the future.