(Update: Adding video, comments from teacher, students)
Land Lab's lessons include learning about pollinators water conservation
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Jefferson County Middle School is working to add a pollinator habitat as part of their Land Lab.
The lab is used by more than 200 students at the middle school and the Jefferson County Community Learning Center after-school program.
Sara Vollmer, the career and technical education teacher at JCMS, said she is passionate about giving students the tools they need to succeed outside of the classroom.
“There are lots of hands-on activities,” Vollmer said. “Instead of just doing bookwork, we get to go out here and actually touch animals, touch plants.”
In addition to growing plants, students are also taught how to raise animals for the Future Farmers of America (FFA).
Sixth-grader Geovanni Estrada said his favorite part of the program is learning how to breed bunnies.
"Since my name is Geovanni, they call me 'Vanni,' so that's why," he said.
The plants and animals are later sold through fundraisers to benefit Jefferson County families.
Vollmer said, "Our whole idea behind it was with the water issues and water instability in Jefferson County, we wanted to teach kids about growing things that don't require as much water."
Students are required to have a supervised agricultural experience (SAE), which gives them a better understanding of where their food comes from.
With help from the $500 grant from Mid Oregon Credit Union, the school hopes to add a permanent pollinator habitat to their land lab.
They would like to add a border around the land lab to attract and protect native pollinators, specifically the honeybee.
The school hopes adding native plants will take less water and maintenance, and ease the water instability issues in Jefferson County.