Grant to Enhance Agriculture at JWES

Grant To Enhance Agriculture in Classroom at JWES
Posted on 11/21/2023

The Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) Grant was awarded to school librarian Barbara Childs. It will be used to establish a hydroponic planting system in conjunction with an outdoor greenhouse.


The greenhouse was recently purchased with funds from Scholastic Book Fairs, a grant from the Christian Educators Association, and a previous grant from AITC. The greenhouse was assembled by the Alleghany Highlands Kiwanis Club. 


With hydroponics, students learn all about how to grow vegetables without the use of soil. An outdoor classroom at Jeter-Watson will also be used as part of the learning project.


Virginia AITC had over $30,000 available for the 2023-24 school year to support hands-on classroom agricultural experiences. Teachers and other organizations like 4-H clubs and FFA chapters that work with schools, and parent-teacher associations were urged to apply for up to $500 for agriculture-related initiatives.


“School-age children in all grade levels across Virginia have an opportunity to investigate agriculture, whether by growing a garden, hatching chicks or even creating a community ag library,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC’s executive director. “This program increases awareness of how we interact with our environment and spurs ideas about how to meet our needs today and in the future.”


Agriculture is Virginia's largest private industry. The industry has an economic impact of $82.3 billion annually, provides more than 381,800 jobs in the Commonwealth and $43.8 billion in value-added impact.


Childs has been recognized twice recently for innovative projects and programming at Jeter-Watson. Additionally, she spent time learning Virginia agricultural programming at the 2023 Virginia State Fair held recently in Richmond. Virginia AITC provides resources, training and support to schools, educators and volunteers so that they can meaningfully connect children to agriculture. 


Virginia AITC provides specially-designed lessons and resources, educator training workshops, newsletters, school grants, teacher awards, and volunteer projects and initiatives such as Agriculture Literacy Week.  Its lessons are designed to support core subjects and uphold the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).


Childs was the Virginia Association School Librarians’ Roanoke Region Librarian of the Year in 2020. She represented Jeter-Watson Elementary at the Virginia Association of School Librarians annual conference Nov. 1-3 in Chantilly.


“Ms. Childs is a wonderful teacher! It sometimes gets missed or overlooked that librarians are teachers that help students, other staff members, their school, and school division reach their greatest potential. Ms. Childs is always looking for ways to promote, improve, and help all of the librarians and libraries in our school division and region.  I am very grateful to have her in our school division to help enhance Career and Technical Education, our libraries, and instruction for everyone,” said Dwayne Ross, director of secondary education for AHPS.


In his role with AHPS, Ross oversees career and technical education programs and courses for AHPS. AHPS currently offers courses in agriculture to students in grades 6-12 and endorses career-exploration activities in the elementary grades.


The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division was formed through the July 2022 merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center. The school division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. The school division serves approximately 2,700 students. 


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