Classroom Grants Awarded

Classroom Grants Awarded
Posted on 10/23/2018
Three Suffolk elementary school teachers recently each received $500 mini-grants through the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom program.  Statewide, grant projects will provide 25,000 children and youth with an agriculture or gardening experience. Projects include topics such as gardening, careers, animal agriculture and leadership development.   

In Suffolk Public Schools, winners included Lynnette Phillips, a kindergarten teacher at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School; Barbara Espinosa, a first-grade teacher at Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary School; and Beth Langston, a fourth-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School.  

At Elephant’s Fork Elementary, the grant will provide kindergarten students with a first-hand experience to witness the life cycle of chickens and caterpillars. In the spring, a local farmer will loan the class an incubator and fertilized chicken eggs.  The chicks take about 21 days to hatch.  Students will also follow the life cycle of butterflies from caterpillars to cocoons to flyers. 

At Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary, first-graders will start a community garden to learn about plant life from seed to table. Students will sprout seeds inside and transplant them to the tilled garden in February.  They will work together to water and weed, learning first-hand the needs of each plant.  The garden is just a small part of a year-long Smile Project, where students are focusing on purposefully doing random acts of kindness that make others smile. 

At Pioneer Elementary, the school’s established community garden will be enhanced with improved rain barrels and composting tumbler.  The Mustang Garden is used by all grade levels as they apply math and science skills with some dirt under kids’ fingernails.  Students will plant vegetables, herbs and flowers in three different seasons – fall, winter and spring.  

Virginia Agriculture in the Classr
oom educational materials will be used with both gardening projects, including the lessons “Dirt Baby,” “Sprouting Success” and “Germination Journal.”  The local Master Gardeners, Virginia Extension Service, and Healthy Suffolk will assist, along with parent and community volunteers.  Agriculture in the Classroom is a national program that promotes greater understanding of agriculture through education.

The Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is a nonprofit organization that receives financial and administrative support from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. For more information visit
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