Ushering into the warming season, Austin High School students could be found using their green thumbs on Tuesday morning.
Tucked behind the Hormel Foods Corps. main building was the company’s pollinator garden. The aftermath from this past winter’s harsh storms was evident. Signs were blown over, and dead brown plants covered much of what was left of the garden.
So, around 20 students in grades 9-12 from AHS’ landscaping elective class rolled up their sleeves and worked on clipping the dead stems and measured out their plans to help clean up the area. Eventually, two crab apple trees will be planted near the garden, and there’s hope that the pollinator garden will expand this fall.
Tuesday’s project was the first time that a youth organization (in this case Austin High School) was invited out to help with the tending of Hormel Foods’ garden. According to Linnay Schweisthal, the agriculture teacher from Austin High School, several employees from Hormel Foods were on the FFA advisory board, and connected with her landscaping class to help with the pollinator garden. For seven years the landscaping class has been offered at the high school as an elective course.
“It’s really hands-on application,” Schwiesthal said. “These students are learning about measuring and positioning of plants. Landscaping has a lot of real application, and this is where the information they learn comes into play. One day they’ll own a home. There’s a lot of practical applications they will carry into adulthood.”