Hilsman Middle School, located in Athens, Georgia, is blooming with potential. Literally. Sixth through eighth graders have recently been working to develop a vegetable garden in a previously overgrown, trash-ridden plot of land behind their school.
Ag Science teacher Renee Smith, who is approaching the conclusion of an extremely successful first year in the district, is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to organization, planning, and expanding the program to positively impact as many students as possible. On a daily basis, she exposes her students to livestock, plant cultivation outdoors as well as in the greenhouse, the FFA mission, and so much more. The addition of AmeriCorps VISTA Erin Seymour in mid-March has supplemented these efforts, while also taking on projects such as improving the school’s recycling program, creating enrichment activities and structures for Hilsman’s goat trio (shown above) and developing an herb garden for use by the Family and Consumer Sciences program.
Ultimately, the mission toward sustainable, healthy lifestyles for the Hilsman population requires complete buy-in from students, staff, families, and neighbors. Long-term success of these programs involves widespread education and making available the resources necessary to reduce food insecurity and encourage positive, wholesome choices for an overall robust, thriving, and interconnected community.
Anyone can get involved in the crusade against poverty and a throw-away culture! Whether you possess a certain expertise that could contribute to Hilsman’s gardens and sustainability efforts, or have no experience whatsoever, volunteers are always greatly appreciated. For the opportunity to make a difference in Athens-Clarke County from the ground, up, contact Erin Seymour at firstname.lastname@example.org