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Revitalizing Learning through Wabash Middle School Community Gardens

Students in the WMS Community Garden

In the bustling corridors of Wabash Middle School, a simple yet profound question echoed through the minds of students and educators during the 2019-2020 school year: "Why don't we spend more time learning outdoors at school?" This question, sparked by a curious student, ignited a spark of creativity and collaboration among the school's dedicated individuals, leading to the inception of the Wabash Middle School Apaches Learning Area and Community Gardens.

At the heart of this initiative is Brody Cook, a humble, yet passionate 6th-grade science teacher whose dedication to student learning knows no bounds. With fervor and enthusiasm, Mr. Cook spearheaded the establishment and expansion of the community gardens, fostering authentic learning environments for students and adults alike. Through his tireless efforts, supported by fellow educators and the broader community, the project flourished, becoming a wonderful example of hands-on education.

Flowers blooming in the WMS Community Garden

Today, the Wabash Middle School Community Garden boasts an array of features, including 17 raised garden beds brimming with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and native pollinating plants, alongside a greenhouse, indoor tower Gardens, a trail camera, and a wildlife feeding station. These resources serve as dynamic platforms for exploration and discovery, empowering teachers, students, and staff to engage with nature and foster a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Throughout the academic year, the garden becomes a hub of activity, with students eagerly tending to their plants, collecting data, and marveling at the fruits of their labor. From the vibrant sunflowers of August to the tender seedlings of spring, each season brings new opportunities for growth and learning. Students not only develop practical skills in gardening but also cultivate a sense of pride and responsibility for their environment, fostering connections that transcend the classroom walls.

In recent months, the garden has seen a flurry of activity, with 6th graders delving into lessons on solar energy and ecosystem dynamics, while also preparing for the upcoming planting season. As the school year progresses, teachers across various disciplines are embracing the outdoor classrooms, utilizing the gardens and greenhouse as dynamic teaching tools to enrich their curriculum.

None of this would be possible without the unwavering support of the community. From local businesses donating seeds and supplies to Purdue Extension lending expertise and guidance, the collaborative efforts of countless individuals have propelled the project forward. Purdue Extension also supplied the hatching eggs, which allowed our students to observe baby chickens as they hatched! There are far too many volunteers and organizations to thank, but together, they have transformed a simple idea into a thriving educational ecosystem, where students can cultivate knowledge, curiosity, and a deep appreciation for the world around them.

As we reflect on the journey of the Wabash Middle School Community Gardens, we are reminded of the power of collaboration and the transformative potential of hands-on learning. By nurturing our gardens, we are also nurturing the minds of future generations, sowing the seeds of curiosity and stewardship that will blossom for years to come. Mr. Cook is always looking for new partners and community members to make the most of this wonderful resource. In the ever-changing landscape of education, let us continue to cultivate spaces where learning knows no bounds and where the wonders of nature become our greatest teachers.

WMS Community Garden Orientation


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