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Shoreham-Wading River gets grant for sustainability class

Shoreham-Wading River High School has received a $6,750 grant to fund a course called Long Island Sustainability that acclimates students to the dynamic science of agronomy, or the science of soil management and field crop production.

The grant comes from New York State Agriculture Education and Outreach for School-Base Agriculture Programs.

Students will learn various aspects of horticulture and sustainability and the science behind conventional and organic crop production, as well as sustainability and trends in modern agriculture such as agri-tourism, farm-to-table dining and Community Supported Agriculture, according to the school’s spokesperson.

Science teacher Kevin Nohejl will lead the new elective class. He said the ultimate goal of the class is to produce enough food to maybe start using in the cafeteria and exposing students to healthy lifestyles.

“So now the new task is to figure out how to spend that money to better advance the program for our students,” Mr. Nohejl said at the Jan. 8 Board of Education meeting. “We really hope to take the program to the next level.”

Mr. Nohejl was among more than 60 high school teachers who applied for the grant.

“We are very excited for the opportunities and resources this grant will provide for our students and Mr. Nohejl,” said Amy Meyer, district director of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “From curriculum and program development and coordination, to resource acquisitions and professional development, we look forward to witnessing the success and interest in this high-quality education program as a result of the work of Mr. Nohejl and his students.”

There is currently a small school garden on the Shoreham-Wading River campus. With the grant money, Mr. Nohejl said he hopes to purchase vertical grow towers and racks so they can produce year-round. So far, they grew broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and spinach among other things. The class begins this academic year and is being offered to juniors and seniors.

“Soon we’re going to be starting other more traditional types of plants, flowers, tomatoes, peppers and hopefully do some beautification projects around the district,” Mr. Nohejl said.

As part of the program, a number of science students will be selected to represent the district at the 2019 New York State Future Farmers of America Convention in May in Syracuse to participate in the program’s workshops and presentations.

“It’s a unique, diverse, out-of-the-box type experience in the classroom, really getting them hands-on [experience] and working cooperatively as well as independently to achieve our goals,” he said. “We hope to use the money to purchase equipment that will be noticeable throughout the district.”

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Photo caption: Science teacher Kevin Nohejl addressed the board. (Rachel Siford photo)