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AWC students plant with preschoolers
Agriculture is an important part of daily life but can be taken for granted, so an Arizona Western College professor helped students of all ages get to the root of it all with a hands-on assignment Thursday.
Holly Schindler, Plant Science 101 instructor at AWC took her 20 students along with 20 preschool toddlers from the college's Watson Child Development Learning Lab to fields behind the school greenhouse to transplant cauliflower.
"I think it's important to educate people of all ages about its significance so hopefully kids will be more comfortable about planting and working in dirt," Schindler said.
Even though it is cauliflower season, one of the incentives for planting the crop now is because AWC recently received a donation of seeds from Gowan Company. The seeds were first germinated in the greenhouse because they have a better survival rate and once mature enough they were able to transplant 48 plants, she said.
"This procedure is a little more realistic to what people do in their own home gardens. We're hoping to harvest the plants before students leave on Christmas break."
Jose Zavalza, 20, a sophomore majoring in business is taking the plant class to fulfill his science requirements.
Zavalza worked with Matthew Rodriguez, a student at the CDLL. Zavalza said Matthew separated the plant with equal space between them, spaded up the soil to plant the roots, and then padded the top soil firmly in place.
"I'm just getting my general credits right now but I thought it was cool planting with 4-year olds. He knew just what to do when he saw what we needed.
"I just held the plant for him, he took care of the rest."
Zavalza said he has never done gardening on his own other than pulling weeds but he thinks "it's pretty cool." While this class is mainly to complete requirements he is planning to transfer to San Diego State University to get a bachelor's degree in business and he says he would like to become a partner to his brother who runs a business installation firm in San Diego.
After getting his plant in place Matthew smiled with a broad grin.
"I dug the hole," he said. "I'm going to tell my mom I want to garden at home."
Ben Behunin, CDLL preschool teacher said his students have been learning all year about planting seeds, eating a healthy diet and conservation, and they have had a lot of lessons in recycling.
"We want the kids to know where their foods come from. And hopefully the take home message for them is, you can do this at home."
Alma Gonzalez, 19, also a sophomore majoring in business, intends to transfer to Arizona State University and possibly focus on an advertising career.
Although she has never done gardening either she said the process was interesting, and now that she has experienced the class she is prompted to try it on her own. Despite her inexperience she said she understands that many related businesses depend a lot upon the success of agriculture in the Yuma area.
Schindler said students also grew a variety of other crops including, baby leaf lettuce in the greenhouse as well as corn, radish, beats, peas and squash in the fields. She also said she encouraged all her students to share their vegetables with the pre-school students before they leave for semester break.
"I want people to recognize the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives. The food in your grocery stores is produced by caring farmers. We have the safest food supply in the world and we should be thankful for that."