Janesville72°

Parker High School greenhouse project boosts ag education

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 15, 2010
— Parker High School teacher Karen Smiley now has a greenhouse that will keep agriculture students busy over the winter.

The school has had a greenhouse since it was built, but the structure at the rear of the building was never upgraded, Smiley said.


Now, it is. Workers in recent weeks have replaced or fixed the greenhouse’s heating, ventilation and control systems and upgraded the insulation.


The recent referendum-funded project at Parker added two small greenhouses for use by science classes at the front of the school. Smiley said the old greenhouse used by agriculture students did not benefit from that project.


The old greenhouse had bad seals that let cold air seep in. The vents did not operate properly, staying open when they should have closed, Smiley said.


“This is going to allow us to go green and be more energy efficient,” Smiley said of the upgrade.


“We will be saving massive amounts of money on heating costs,” she added.


To grow poinsettias, the heat had to be set at the maximum of 85 to get the room’s temperature up to the needed 65 to 70, Smiley said.


When temperatures dipped into the 20s, keeping the inside temperature at 65 was just barely possible, she said. So the greenhouse had to be shut down in the coldest months, just at the time when students could have been growing plants to be ready for spring classes and an FFA plant sale.


A combination of grant, federal and local money paid for the project.


Parker was one of only three schools in the country to receive a National Association of Agricultural Educators/FFA Partners in Active Learning Support Greenhouse Enhancement Grant, but the $6,000 was not enough for a proper upgrade.


School district officials took $6,000 from an annual federal grant for vocational/technical education and another $3,200 from the Parker principal’s discretionary fund.


Smiley said the work was completed in time to boost the agriculture program this year.



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