The Watershed Committee received a $10,000 grant from the Darr Family Foundation (DFF). This funding will be used to help establish a nursery operation, focused on native plants, at Hillcrest High School.
In partnership with Springfield Public Schools (SPS), the Watershed Committee has helped develop a 3-year “college and career pathway” program at Hillcrest. SPS describes this pathway this way: “The Environmental and Natural Resource Management Pathway teaches students how to properly manage land, water, soil, plants, and animals. These classes have a focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations.” More recently, school leaders have embraced the inclusion of agriculture within this pathway, and are excited to establish the first Future Farmers of America student organization in the SPS system at Hillcrest. The program will provide industry recognized credential opportunities, and readiness for a variety of college and/or career pathways such as agriculture, environmental restoration, the sciences, and more.
The native plant nursery component of this program is integral. The opportunity for the students to be involved with growing and selling native plants blends science, business, and agriculture. Coupled with the growing demand for native plants in the market, the Watershed Committee intends to market and sell the plants produced to generate enough revenue to support the program. Seed money from the DFF will help us create a truly sustainable program and incredible opportunity for local students.