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Agriculture in Shallowater: We Will Grow on You

Shallowater High School

December 16, 2013

If you want to know how to get successful agriculture grants, talk to Shallowater ISD. Shallowater High School is one of the Texas Tech T-STEM Center's newest T-STEM-designated academies. They have committed to T-STEM education (Texas science, technology, engineering, and math) and PBL (project-based learning) instructional methods.

Shallowater ISD Superintendent, Phil Warren, likes to say that the district tries to always think outside the box. This year, the district had a need—they wanted to give middle and high school science and agriculture students more opportunities to participate in hands-on, real-world projects focused on agriculture. So they collaborated on ideas, identified a solution (a greenhouse), and worked to make it a reality. Mr. Warren said, "The greenhouse shows the process and mindset that have gotten us to this point."

To make the dream a reality, they needed the assistance of Shallowater's farmers. Monsanto Funds sponsors the America's Farmers: Grow Rural Education grant program. According to their website, "The program gives farmers the opportunity to nominate a rural public school district in their community to compete for a merit-based grant." Funding decisions are made based on "financial need of the district, the merit of the proposed program and community support demonstrated by farmer nominations."  The farmers around Shallowater nominated the school for the grant, and, when Shallowater applied, they were awarded the $10,000 grant, which has been used to purchase materials to build the greenhouse.

In addition, the school received $4,300 from Xcel Energy that will be used to purchase equipment for the greenhouse such as growing towers, and another $800 from the Lubbock Area Foundation for gravel and other supplies that will keep the temperature neutral.

The greenhouse will be located at their agricultural farm about one mile east of Shallowater. Students will help in construction of the structure, and they have already built growing towers for the aeroponics system they will use, which involves growing plants in an air or mist environment that transmits nutrients without soil.

Congratulations to Shallowater ISD for seeing their dream to fruition.

Contributed by Debra Nash, Associate Director, Texas Tech T-STEM Center, Lubbock, TX