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Greenhouse growth: fish, salads and life

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By Caleb Phelps

Some of the most formative years for a person are those just before transitioning into adulthood. There are cultural rites of passage: getting a driver’s license, applying for a first job and registering to vote. Often there is also exposure to the workings of larger systems. These systems could include anything from economics to health care. In an example at LaRue County High School, this type of growth occurs both physically and intellectually.

Chris Thomas, an agricultural teacher at LaRue County High School, oversees much of the teaching in the greenhouse located between the school building and the football stadium. For his students, it was a busy first semester with no signs of slowing down in fish farming and lettuce farming. “Since the beginning of the school year, we have had a lot of changes in the greenhouse. We added the third system, adding more NFT (Nutrient Film Technique). The students add those and four five-hundred-gallon aquariums to the fish room. »

For Thomas, this is a great opportunity to teach skills his students can use later in life: “They did all the plumbing. They did a lot of the design work and also tried to figure out if there were any leaks as some parts of this system belong to last year’s class who couldn’t complete it. I bring them here, I let them go, and they have to work it out as I go. When problems arise, they are responsible for resolving them. They learn life skills: how to measure and cut a pipe, glue it, and all the different pump requirements for moving water. They also learn building techniques, building the stands inside the fish room and outside in the greenhouse. All this in addition to learning how to take care of plants and how to feed and care for fish and how to process lettuce.

Although the work can be intensive and requires constant attention, Thomas teaches his students a service mindset: “Our goal is to get into every cafeteria in the school district, and then hopefully we’ll have some more.” others to go out in the community. We want to grow fresh local lettuce here, even in the cold months. It would be a huge accomplishment.

Thomas exemplifies a key value in LaRue County Schools, the belief in developing leaders and good community stewards through lifelong learning. He teaches his students skills they can keep for the rest of their lives while showing them how their work fits into a much bigger system, making food accessible to others. This is the incredible value of skills actively taught with an intuitive, forward-thinking mindset at LaRue County Schools.