Inside the Mills Elementary Greenhouse
We had first made contact with Casper Community Greenhouse Project- a non-profit in Casper, Wyoming, several months ago. With a new greenhouse structure recently completed at Mills Elementary School, this became the site for CCGP’s flagship program to demonstrate local and sustainable food growing techniques within the city. After rigorous preparation in gathering class materials and aquaponics system components, we set off for Wyoming. Our objectives included educating the students and teachers about aquaponics and installing a few small systems which would be used as learning tools. We took the travel opportunity to visit a couple of sites along the way including the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and their passive solar greenhouse, and our friends at Bright Agrotech in Laramie. After the first leg of the beautiful drive we retired to our accommodations for the evening.
We awoke invigorated by the power of our teams excitement (and coffee) and swiftly made our way to Mills Elementary. JD started the morning off with an informative presentation of the basics of aquaponics, followed by a lengthy question and answers segment fueled by the curiosity of young minds. After the assembly, the crowd of 3rd through 5th grade students returned to their respective classrooms. Holly and and I presented a full days’ worth of aquaponics information and activities, while JD and Patrick constructed the new 90 gallon system in the school’s greenhouse. I was excited to teach, and curious to see how this day would end, for this was my first aquaponics teaching experience. It turns out the kids were just as excited and curious about aquaponics as I was about sharing it. I spent the day instructing on different types of organisms in an aquaponics system, the different aquaponic system designs and their pros and cons; and finally the importance of food and where it comes from.
JD teaching in the greenhouse
Out in the Mills Elementary’s greenhouse, JD and Patrick uneventfully constructed the 90 gallon system. Just kidding, the greenhouse was a buzz of excited children, curious teachers, and even a few local news cameras! It seemed that every class in the school took a turn to see what the Colorado Aquaponics team was building in their greenhouse. The children were so receptive and engaging it made teaching them all the more enjoyable. After hours of presentations, questions, construction, and demonstrations we came to the end of our day and we began our long journey home. The beautiful drive gave us plenty of time to reflect, rest, and appreciate the opportunity to share our passion. I am so proud and impressed by the students and faculty of Mills Elementary. I hope that Mills Elementary continues to utilize interesting and innovative teaching methods to engage their students. On behalf of Colorado Aquaponics team I just want to say thank you to the staff of Mills Elementary for being so excited and accommodating. We all had a wonderful time and hope to continue increasing our connections to education.