Volusia March 2021

The Go Green Issue

Volusia March 2021
The Go Green Issue
March 2021

View Contents

St. Johns March 2021

The Go Green Issue

St. Johns March 2021
The Go Green Issue
March 2021

View Contents

Flagler March 2021

The Go Green Issue

Flagler March 2021
The Go Green Issue
March 2021

View Contents

Green Initiatives in St. Johns County Schools

Freedom Crossing Academy

The Freedom Crossing Academy school kitchen recycles. They also use the parts of produce that are not used as compost in their gardens. Students bring in coffee grounds and eggshells from home to add to this. The students have also contributed dried leaves from raked yards and cardboard boxes for bed floors to promote earthworm homes in the garden dirt.

Students learn through soil study and recipe research. Produce is used for fundraising and community service. The school has donated vegetables in the past to the needy. Students and staff have volunteered at local cook-off events. They have participated in the Saint Johns County Souper-Bowl, which raises funds for Blessings in a Back Pack and in a Chili cook-off for Daniel’s Kids of Jacksonville.

Mrs. Marabell’s 4th grade class just planted seedlings for Spring Crops!

Gamble Rogers Middle School

Science Teacher Mr. Kevin Gamble has built an amazing horticulture class in their 8th year. It started as a club and has moved to an environmental elective and has become a horticulture/agriscience elective. This class focuses on student-led gardening, using the school campus as part of their classroom. It has grown each year so that now, the entire courtyard in the school has become a garden. Thanks to numerous grants and assistance from the community, the program now boasts a hydroponics system for strawberry growth and vertical garden sets for growing greens and herbs.

When Hurricane Matthew destroyed their greenhouse, Mr. Gamble partnered with Pedro Menendez High School Building Program. The students at Pedro Menendez designed and built the new greenhouse. Many of the students were former students of Mr. Gamble. They now use the greenhouse for seed germination and succulent and herb growth.

This program gets support from a multitude of people and organizations. Teachers share ideas for different projects they find on Pinterest and other sources. The custodial staff is a constant source of assistance. Bill and Bryanne Hamilton of Southern Horticulture donate soil and mulch and offer great advice. Wells Farm donates seed potatoes every year. Ace Hardware on US 1 provides good deals on plants, tools and great advice. Kathy Ponce of IFAS Family Food & Nutrition Outreach provides fertilizers, compost, seeds and equipment.

What do the students learn? They learn how to prepare soil, map a garden, set up and maintain a hydroponic system and test the PH of soil. They document the growth of their plants, and after harvesting them, they eat them in class, or out in the garden! Classroom learning includes the need for food diversity, plant reproductions, global agriculture, pollinators, plant diseases, pesticides and the green revolution. Once they harvest their vegetables, they learn about nutrition, keeping a food journal and discussing processed vs. unprocessed foods. They also learn about fresh food deserts and the importance of produce accessibility.

According to Mr. Gamble, what the program needs is super gardening enthusiast to come in to school once a week to help grow the program. Volunteers welcome!

Sebastian Middle School

Teachers Debbie Nall, Megan Johns and Robert Raimann are using their greenhouse to enhance learning into 7th grade Agriculture and Technology classes. The greenhouse, installed at the beginning of last school year, was made possible by a donation by the Halbrook Family Foundation. The students are growing produce, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, carrots and basil and spinach. They have started plants from seed and have used flowers to learn how to propagate plants using cuttings.

The program has included collaboration with students from the First Coast Technical College Agriscience program. They have helped with resources to get the greenhouse started.

One of the fun outcomes from their growing efforts was the harvesting of pickling cucumbers and making pickles out of them. The 7th graders then sampled their harvest, to rave reviews. A common quote in each class was “Those pickles look like cucumbers!”

They also have a compost bin and are learning to make their own fertilizer. Classroom lessons that accompany the hands-on education of the greenhouse includes studying how satellites can now show what fields are fertile, allowing for spot fertilizing instead of widespread. This is better for the fields and our water sources. The students also played Journey 2050, a virtual simulation that explores world food sustainability. It was a great crossover for both virtual and in person students.

The 8th grade Green Construction and Architecture class explored the concept of a Net-Zero School. Simply put, Net Zero means consuming only as much energy as produced, achieving a sustainable balance between water availability and demand, and eliminating solid waste sent to landfills. They learned about renewal energy, and presented their ideas for ways for the school to move toward the goal of being a net-zero system.

As a wrap up at the end of the course, students were asked how they could make the greenhouse better. Student suggestions included ways to recycle water, use rain barrels, make a more efficient watering system and measuring the moisture in the soil so plants are only watered when they need it.

Coca Cola Florida has donated 4 rain barrels, so in the future, students will determine the optimal location where to place these, and how to use this water as an irrigation system.

This semester, STEM Coach Courtney Taylor will involve her students in projects in the greenhouse.

The community support and innovation of these teachers have provided a great new environment for hands on learning for their students, benefitting all involved. They will be looking for ways to build on this in the future.

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Green Initiatives in Volusia County Schools

District-level project 

Six schools created great pollinator (butterfly) gardens for secondary schools and 5 elementary schools do raised garden beds. There is a demo garden open to the public at Lyonia Preserve (in the Duke area) that is free and open to the public. It is planted with native plants. This was grant funded and student created.

Elementary Schools

Westside Elementary, Daytona Beach 

Students enrolled in our Westside’s Night Alive after-school program have the opportunity to grow and harvest vegetables. They get to enjoy their harvest by tasting the vegetables after they’ve been prepared by cafe staff. Occasionally, they even get to bring some of their veggies home to share with their families. The WNA program is funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant to provide academic and enrichment services throughout the school year to targeted students, families, and the community.

Turie T. Small Elementary, Daytona Beach 

Courtney Folkerts wrote a FUTURES grant for a gardening program. She plans to start the garden this month. The grant is to work on plant reproduction with the 5th graders in science. The students will plant a garden with vegetables and fruits. Students will measure growth and note the different stages of development!

Cypress Creek Elementary, Port Orange

A class is working with a parent volunteer master gardener who set us up with vermiculture – we have tons of red wigglers in the room where we feed them and wait for the nutrient rich “worm tea” to add to our box gardens. We have milkweed plants planted in various locations on campus to support the monarch butterfly population. 

Edgewater Public School

Edgewater Public School (elementary level), Edgewater

The “green” initiatives at Edgewater Public School are varied. There are solar panels that provide all of the electricity to our barn. The panels allow the school to have lights, fans, outlets for power tools and Internet for the web cams. The hydroponics system is inside, and students grow different crops including basil and lettuce. The wind vane isn’t really green, but it is neat!

Sugar Mill Elementary

Sugar Mill Elementary, Port Orange

Sugar Mill Elementary composts and recycles dead plant material into healthy compost to put back into our gardens, saving water and waste products. 

Therapeutic Edible Gardens calm students down in areas throughout the school, it teaches them how their food is grown, and allows them to take edible foods home. 

The Spruce Creek High Key club mentors our Environmental Club members and assist with recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans and keeping a tally.

School Wide Cleanup and Beautification with Environmental Club students pick up trash items and help keep the school clean.

Pathways Elementary, Ormond Beach

Pathways Elementary’s green initiative focus began in 1999 with the addition of their greenhouse. More recently the initiative has included the addition of 11 raised beds, a composter, and updated hydroponic systems. Students attend Gardening/STEM as a special area where a hands-on approach is encouraged as they tend to the day-to-day responsibilities of maintaining a healthy production of pollinators, fruits, and vegetables. Ongoing partnerships with UF/IFAS extension agency, Slingerlands nursery, and master gardeners keep students involved in virtual nutrition programs, introductions and availability to familiar and unfamiliar plants, and a variety of engaging lessons. Ultimately, conservation, respect, and responsibility for the wellness of the Earth, today and in the future, is the program’s goal. 

Orange City

Orange City Elementary, Orange City 

The VPK program has a garden.

Citrus Grove Elementary, DeLand 

The school has a wonderful garden located near their outdoor classroom. Through various grants and collaborative initiative with University of Florida and Stetson University, Kindergarten and 1st grade students learn about nutrition through the development of this garden. These classes care for, plant and reap the benefits of this garden throughout the school year. Ms. Olivia Noboa, Mrs. Katie Pappas, and Mrs. Derstine are the teachers involved. 

George Marks Elementary, DeLand

Ms. Beth Mott and Ms. Kelly Long will be starting a hydroponic garden with funds from a Futures Mini Grant this spring. It is the first phase in a long-term plan to develop various types of gardens around the new school grounds. 

Osteen Lettuce Tower

Osceola Elementary, Ormond Beach 

The Ormond Beach Garden Club and two local Master Gardeners have taught and supported the Osceola Elementary garden for several years. The program will restart once the pandemic is passed.

In the past two years, second graders and fourth graders worked with the Master Gardeners weekly during our special area PE time along with our PE Coach.

Osteen Elementary, Osteen 

This is our “Lettuce Grow” tower purchased through a grant from Advent Health. The students are adding the weekly nutrients to the hydroponic system. 

Middle Schools

Heritage Middle School, Deltona 

Our school garden is supplemented by the FUTURES GRANTS that I write each year. We have a hydroponics section, hay bale gardening section and traditional in ground section. We garden all year long, growing winter vegetables like kale, collards, lettuce, snap peas, broccoli and cabbage in the winter, and during the spring and summer we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, sunflowers and potatoes. Students plant and harvest, and take home any vegetables that they want. Students learn about soils, fertilizers, growing seasons and how to start seedlings.

High Schools

Spruce Creek High, Port Orange 

5 years ago, Spruce Creek High School had an empty courtyard full of weeds next to the parent pick up loop. In an effort to help students see that they can take responsibility for their world and make positive change, Mr. Platt took over the area, raised money and planted a native plant space, with food production areas including fruit trees and an outdoor classroom space. Since then, students in AP and IB environmental science classes, under Mr. Platt’s direction, have taken responsibility for the upkeep for the area which is now a beautiful greenspace on our campus.

The school has an electric car charger in the student parking lot that is connected to solar panels and eco-water bottle refill stations also.

Atlantic High, Port Orange 

As a part of our AEMS (Aquaculture, Environmental and Marine Science) Academy, Atlantic High School has a greenhouse, hydroponic garden, butterfly garden, Zen Garden, and numerous planters where students are cultivating fruits and vegetables. Last year, the fruits and vegetable harvested were sold to faculty to support the academy program initiatives. The goal, once covid is past, is to sell at farmer’s market.

Pine Ridge High, Deltona 

The modified ESE students have a small garden. The goal is to eventually sell the vegetables to staff. They currently sell sprouts for salads to staff.

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Ask The Doctor: COVID-19 and Kids’ Mental Health

Help is only a phone call away, which matters more than ever during the pandemic.

Most parents probably can’t imagine their own son or daughter saying he or she would rather not live anymore. Unfortunately, that nightmare has become a reality for more moms and dads than ever before thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, there has been a 300% increase in behavioral health admissions since the pandemic began in early 2020. Many of these include intentional overdoses, overwhelming anxiety and depression, and eating disorders.

Terrie Andrews, PhD, clinical psychologist and system administrator for Baptist Behavioral Health and Wolfson Children’s Behavioral Health, said that while precautions like sheltering in place and avoiding large gatherings are key to halting the pandemic, they take a toll on kids’ mental well-being. These measures can also make it harder for kids already dealing with mental health hurdles to stay on track.

“Isolation is not good for anyone, especially for teens who rely on their social support systems for developmental growth,” Dr. Andrews said. “The break from usual routine has been tough on teens too. I would recommend parents communicate patiently and openly with kids and teens who are already struggling with mental health concerns and provide a safe space for children to voice how they are feeling.”

Watch for red flags

While children and teens may show recognizable signs of mental distress, like sleeping too much or too little or withdrawing from others, they often have symptoms parents may not expect. These can include:

  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches with no physical cause
  • Increased irritability or frequent tantrums
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Sudden loss of interest in things the child used to enjoy
  • Frequent discussion of worries or fears
  • Use of statements like, “I want to go to sleep and not wake up,” or, “I just don’t want to feel anything anymore”

Start a conversation

If your child is exhibiting any of these concerning behaviors or has made similar remarks, don’t brush it off. It’s easy to think a teenager is just being dramatic, or a 12-year-old could never feel suicidal, but parents should take these things as signs to intervene.

“Ask open-ended questions rather than yes or no questions. There are times teens are not ready to talk, but even just sitting in the room with them can be helpful and comforting,” said Dr. Andrews. “For younger kids or children with limited verbal skills, drawing and creating art can be helpful. While the children are coloring or drawing, ask those open-ended questions. Doing so can provide a safe space for young children to freely talk.”

Get help anytime, anywhere

Wolfson Children’s Hospital offers a 24/7 Kids & Teens Helpline (904.202.7900). All calls are answered by trained mental health experts, and conversations are free and confidential. Those who answer the phone can provide emergency support and assessment, crisis intervention, and referral for follow-up care. (If the situation is life-threatening, call 911 or take your child to the nearest Wolfson Children’s Emergency Center immediately.)

“Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Baptist Health are providing this resource in an effort to support our community and provide resources ahead of a mental health crisis,” said Dr. Andrews. “We want to hear from you or your child to get him or her the necessary care before it’s an emergency.”


Call the 24/7 Kids & Teens Helpline at 904.202.7900 to ask questions, get support, or request guidance on treatment options. Wolfson Children’s Hospital offers a wide range of behavioral health services, including the 24/7 Kids & Teens Helpline, for children of all ages. Visit wolfsonchildrens.com/services/behavioral-health for more information.

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Sugar Mill Students Learn, Grow in Edible Gardens

The fall harvest is under way at Sugar Mill Elementary, where students, teachers and staff operate 10 “edible gardens.”

Gardening provides fresh air and exercise to improve motor skills, promote healthy eating, and help students with social skills and STEM concepts, said Dr. Marie Bracciale, Certified School Counselor and sponsor of the school’s therapeutic gardens.

“Our School Way Cafe manager, Ms. Feeney, features various recipes in our cafe during harvest periods for students to try – like ‘rocket salad’ when we harvest our fresh arugula,” Bracciale said. “Students are more likely to try foods if they grow them, nurture them and harvest them. The importance of healthy eating will ripple throughout their lives.”

Sugar Mill uses a master gardener from UF/IFAS Extension, and a nutritionist from the Extension office educates fourth graders on how to grow and harvest their own food and make good food choices.

The fall harvest included cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, kale, radishes, beets, Japanese eggplants, pineapples, peaches, lemongrass, arugula, red leaf lettuce, bock choi, broccolini, broccoli, cabbage, okra, green beans, collards, carrots, leeks, fennel, Mexican oregano, basil, cilantro, green peppers, strawberries, cucumber, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and parsley. Fresh cuttings and veggies are made available to students and staff daily.

The winter garden was planted at the end of January, once the frost had passed. There are 10 gardens all over campus, plus a butterfly garden, and Coach Schuman maintains the fruit trees. PreK has its own gardens, and kindergarten through fifth grade work in the large therapeutic garden, which is used as a calm-down area and outdoor classroom, Bracciale said.

FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools has been major supporter to help Sugar Mill sustain the program. And a new fundraising campaign is under way now.

Could you provide “seed money” to help their gardens grow?



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How to Create Garden Gold

Buy a compost unit or build one from recycled wood pallets, concrete block, sturdy wire, etc. The minimum size should be 3’x3’x

Make successive 12-inch-thick layers of plant waste – such as leaves, lawn clippings, shredded branches and wood chips

Animal (not pet) manure, finished compost, blood meal, or fertilizer can be added to each layer if desired.

Moisten each layer and keep the pile moist.

Turn the pile frequently to add oxygen and help the decomposition process.

Depending on how intensively it is manager, compost should be ready to use in two to twelve months, when plant parts are decomposed.

Cover the pile to keep rain from leaching nutrients from it.

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Book Nook - March 2021

Early Elementary

Let’s Go to the Garden! with the Lorax

By: Todd Tarpley

Join the Lorax and learn all about gardens in this board book for Dr. Seuss’s youngest fans–perfect for encouraging a love of nature!

The Lorax shares his love of animals and plants and need to “speak for the trees” in this sturdy board book about the role gardens play in helping the Earth. Written in rhymed verse and with flaps to lift that uncover simple facts about the creatures and plants found in gardens, it’s both a fun read and an educational tool for toddlers and preschoolers. Released on 2/9/21

Int Lvl: K-3

The Bears Garden

By: Marcie Colleen

Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, picture book The Bear’s Garden by writer Marcie Colleen and illustrator Alison Oliver is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places. A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be. She sees a place to grow, a place to play, and a place to love. With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden.

Int Lvl: K-3; Rd Lvl: 2.1

Upper Elementary

Watch out world, Rosy Cole is going green!

By: Sheila Greenwald

Rosy’s class is involved in a school fair utilizing the “Keep It Green” theme to raise money to plant trees and buy energy-saving light bulbs, and Rosy suggests “Nature’s Gifts” as a team topic. However, her project, which involves 2000 worms, does not go over well with her family, particularly her older sisters. The story incorporates science into an entertaining early chapter book that has a lively writing style. Spot art on most pages enhances the humor and shows the class dynamics as the project progresses. Rosie retains her charm and spirit, and kids will relate to her dilemmas.

Int Lvl: 3-6; Rd Lvl: 4.7; Lexile 760L

School Warrior –Going Green (Be a Waste Warrior!)

By: Claudia Martin

Trees are chopped down to supply classrooms with paper, disposable pens pile high in landfills, and pollution from transporting ingredients for school lunches hangs in our air. What a waste. But there’s a way to help. Be a waste warrior to put a stop to school waste and join the battle to save Earth. Honest text introduces some of Earth’s biggest waste problems, while helpful solutions provide a way for readers to combat the issues. A final eco-activity pairs simple steps with illustrations to give waste warriors a hands-on activity to fight school waste.

Int Lvl: 3-6; Rd Lvl: 6.7 Lexile 950L

Middle School

The talking earth

By: Jean Craighead George

A young woman of the Seminole tribe begins to question the validity of old customs over the more pressing problems of nuclear war and pollution, in a tale by the Newbery Medalist. (review courtesy of Publisher’s Weekly).

Ages 10-up. Lexile 770

Be smart about investing, planning, saving, and the stock market

By: Kathiann M. Kowalski

With 100 dollars in your pocket, you could buy new jeans, a pair of shoes, and a couple movie tickets. You might still have some left over, but what if you took that 100 dollars and invested it instead? In ten years, that 100 might turn into 1,000, even 10,000 dollars. Saving, planning, and smart investments can make your money grow. It might not be as much fun as spending it, but you’ll be much better off in the future. This book will help readers get started on the best ways to save money, learn about the stock market, and plan their financial future.

Int Lvl: YA; Lexile 950L

Young Adult

Dead Zones: Why Earth’s Waters Are Losing Oxygen

By: Carol Hand

Times are tough for shrimpers and fishers in the Gulf of Mexico. The animals they rely on for their livelihood are harder to find. Every summer a dead zone–a region of low oxygen–emerges in the waters along the Gulf Coast. Where oxygen is low, fish and other animals cannot survive.

Currently the world has more than 400 identified dead zones, up dramatically from the 49 dead zones identified in the 1960s. The good news is that people can eliminate dead zones by changing agricultural practices and reducing pollution. Using real-world examples, this book looks at the impact of pollution on global water resources, and discusses the interconnectedness of ecosystems and organisms.

Int Lvl: YA; Lexile 1230

The complete guide to personal finance for teenagers and college students

By: Tamsen Butlet

In this completely revised edition, young people learn how to get and manage credit, how to make and stick to a budget, how to pay for college, how to determine needs versus wants, how to pay for a car, how to open a bank account, how to balance a checkbook, how to manage finances online, and how to avoid financial mistakes. You will also learn about investments, taxes, checks, debit cards, credit cards, and budget tips. This book is filled with helpful suggestions from financial counselors, and you will discover ways to jumpstart your financial future and use money responsibly.

Int Lvl: YA; Lexile 1190

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