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Parkview Heights students practice gardening at Garden Club

Garden club students paint a bird bath

Third and fourth graders at Parkview Heights Elementary School get to try their hand at gardening once a week as part of the school's Garden Club. 

Naomi Gilbert is a special education paraprofessional and the club sponsor. It was a no brainer for her to start the club with another teacher because her background is in gardening. She has a bachelor's degree in natural sciences and horticulture. 

“These kids really enjoy it because they garden at home, so they know," Gilbert said. "The ones who don’t get to do that, they are excited about learning.”

Gilbert explained the students have been learning about the environment. 

“Part of what we’ve been doing is teaching if you are going to be a gardener, you don’t just get to plant, you also have to maintain,” she said.

“So we’ve been learning about, yes, it’s boring picking up leaves and garbage, and cutting back the grasses, but that’s part of it.”

4th grader Jaley Martinez joined the club two years ago. 

“This is Garden Club. We are cleaning up the garden by putting down new mulch, picking up leaves and trash and planting new things,” she said.

At this particular Garden Club meeting in early April, the students also painted blocks for their garden in the back of the school and painted a bird bath a bright yellow color.

“I joined Garden Club because I think helping nature and outside is nice and it’s pretty fun.”

Every time Gilbert gave the students directions, they hung on her every word, careful to soak in the knowledge that would lead to a garden blossoming in front of their school. 

They huddled together in groups, with concentrated looks on their faces as they plopped their flowers into premade holes in the ground that Gilbert dug before the club gathered together. Spreading the mulch around the flowers, one student squealed with delight when she discovered a worm. 

Martinez explained with a big smile on her face that her favorite part of the club is learning how to plant and learning different types of plants. 

“The coolest thing I’ve learned is probably about birds and squirrels nests and how they get made.”

At an earlier meeting, the Garden Club members planted seeds in cups.

"We get to take care of them at home," she said. 

For Gilbert, seeing how enthusiastic the students are about Garden Club makes her heart feel good.

"I get probably asked 10 times a week in the hallway, is Garden Club this week?”

The Garden Club members voted to have club meetings once a week through the end of the school year in lieu of their typical meeting every two weeks.