NWLA Master Gardeners award over $15,000 in grants for horticulture education

NWLA Master Gardeners award over $15,000 in grants for horticulture education

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Several organizations, schools and municipalities will now have more money for beautification and horticulture education projects.

The Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners recently award over $15,000 in grant money to the following:

  • Bon Chase DAR Chapter - $300 –The Mansfield National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have created a Beautification Project and will include a planter with seasonal color in the downtown courthouse square.
  • Caddo Career & Technology Center - $2,646 – The Career Center will create an urban container garden lab for special needs students which will prepare the students for careers in the horticulture industry, as well as foster a love for plants.
  • Northwest Louisiana Veteran’s Home - $1,930 – The mission of the Northwest Louisiana Veteran’s Home is to provide care for veterans and their families. Sprinkler repair, flowerbed restoration and additional landscaping will help create a pleasant and attractive surrounding at the Home.
  • Red River Parish School Board - $2,500 – Red River High School has created a beautification project ‘Watch Us Grow’ and will add trees and other landscaping to make the campus more appealing not only to the students and their families but to all who drive by.
  • Renzi Education and Art Center - $2,325 – The Renzi Center plans to reinvigorate its current community garden with the addition of a greenhouse and raised beds for seasonal vegetables. The gardens will enable low-income, high-risk youth to learn about sustainability and practice horticulture in an underserved, urban area in Shreveport.
  • St. George Episcopal Church - $1,000 – The church will re-establish a green space in the front of the church to be enjoyed by parishioners, visitors and guests.
  • Shreve Memorial Library - $3,000 – The Shreve Memorial Library has planned a Broadmoor Branch Beautification project that will revitalize the green spaces, common areas and walkways around the branch with a unique mix of trees and shrubbery.
  • Village of Mooringsport - $2,000 –The grant will be used to beautify the town hall with flowers and trees in the hope that it will bring in more visitors to the town of Mooringsport.

Cassandra Key is the executive director of the Renzi Education and Art Center and says they applied for the grant after hearing about it from the instructor of their gardening class.

“It was really very exciting and very unexpected and we’re pleased to get started,” she said. “We’re ready for spring so we can get started on the greenhouse and building the new beds.”

Key says their center provides free education and art programs for at-risk and low-income children in Shreveport.

“A lot of children don’t make the connection between the vegetables that they have at home and growing them in a garden,” she said. “So for a lot of kids vegetables come from the grocery store....so being able to understand that broccoli is something that you can actually grow yourself and then take that broccoli home and have it with dinner (is important).”

Master Gardeners award community grants

Mary Elizabeth O’Neal is the horticulture instructor at the Caddo Career and Technology Center who works with mostly special needs students and students with physical disabilities to help them understand the importance of plants and gardening.

“It’s been proven how much horticulture therapy can help students with both memory retention, motor skills and cognitive development,” she said.

They currently have a 2,000 square foot greenhouse where her students plant over 6,000 budding plants every year.

Some of the tables inside the greenhouse are high and can be a challenge for students with physical disabilities so she’s excited to be able to use the grant money to create a new garden lab that will have raised garden beds for them to easily access.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we all worked...so hard to get something like this accomplished, and I’m not just talking about me and the students (but) the entire school,” she said.

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