Successful middle school greenhouse program expanding

Some middle schools in Billings have a program where students grow plants in a greenhouse. The plants are then sold to raise money for the school. The program has been so successful that next year, all six Billings middle schools will have a greenhouse. 

There are about 20-25 students who work in the Ben Steele Middle School greenhouse. They are preparing for Saturday, when all of the plants will be sold.

John Urbaska, tech education and engineering teacher at Ben Steele Middle School, said, "It's an entire entrepreneurial project, is what it is. What the kids get from it is amazing."

The students are involved in all aspects of caring for the plants: including germinating, watering, fertilizing and a variety of other tasks that need to be done...like bug control.

Urbaska said, "I mean, we had a massive aphid infestation and the kids deployed eight thousand ladybugs in here. It was a cool experience."

Sophia, a student in the greenhouse program, said, "I really like when we planted into the baskets because we got to make different combinations to see what colors work together. We can make things that are tall, but things that trail over the edge to make sure they are really nice and pretty."

Urbaska says the most important thing the students learn is to be student-reliant.

Urbaska said, "The satisfying part for me is how much they care. You think you have a bunch of middle schoolars, you know out in a greenhouse by themselves. And, what you actually see is you see a natural pecking order start to take place. Them giving each other information. Them telling the  other people how to dead head and take care of the plants. And, I can just step back and say, 'hey, it was all worth it." 

The greenhouse sale is this Saturday from 8am to 4pm at the Ben Steele greenhouse. Students will run the sale- doing everything from ringing up sales to helping people out to their cars.

The students will they have flowers for any budget, from $3 for the smallest to $25 for the largest baskets. https://www.billingsschools.org/our-schools/middle-schools/ben-steele/~board/ben-steele-home-page/post/spring-greenhouse-sale

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