Three years after Oregon voters passed Measure 98 to boost career technical education, Pendleton High School is seeing that funding bear fruit.
And even if it doesn’t bear fruit, it’s all but assured to grow some sort of edible greenery.
Using a Measure 98 High School Success grant, the Pendleton School District is ordering a new greenhouse for the high school, a move that is expected to bolster multiple Career and Technical Education programs.
Pendleton High School Assistant Principal Curt Thompson said the 24-by-48-foot facility will be located south of the student parking lot with the expectation that it will be completed before the start of the 2019-20 school year.
Michelle Jones, the district’s director of business services, said the greenhouse will cost $37,000. The Pendleton school board was set to approve a contract with Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co. on Tuesday, but inclement weather canceled the meeting.
When the greenhouse is completed, it should be an asset to Kylee Jensen, the high school’s agriculture instructor.
Although Pendleton High School already has an active greenhouse, it isn’t sufficient for the agriculture program’s future ambitions.
“It’s the size of a closet,” Jensen said.
She said that the new greenhouse will benefit plant science, and crop and soil science classes, where students are often sent in shifts to the old greenhouse to do hands-on work. When the new greenhouse is open to students, Jensen said she may be able to spend whole class periods allowing students to work with their plants or crops.
Additionally, Jensen said institutional knowledge of how certain facets of the old greenhouse works, like its watering system, has dwindled due to teacher and staff turnover.
Jensen said agricultural curriculum is like a three-ring Venn diagram that includes the classroom, Future Farmers of America, and supervised agricultural activities.
The latter is an agricultural project outside of the classroom or lab space that can revolve around a job placement, entrepreneurship, or agriscience. Completed projects can be used to help students earn degrees through the FFA.
While PHS students who live on a farm or ranch can put together an agricultural experience at their own homes, Jensen said in-town children don’t always have access to such a space.
But the larger space the new greenhouse will provide will allow students to work on and display things like a hydroponic system for their agricultural experiences, Jensen said.
The agriculture instructor also expects the new greenhouse will expand the program’s fundraising prowess.
Jensen said the agriculture program doesn’t have the space to grow things for a plant sale, but that would change under the new greenhouse. Money from any plants the school sold from the greenhouse would be pumped right back into the agriculture program.
The high school also hopes that the greenhouse can help with other CTE programs.
Thompson said the culinary program is interested in using the facility to grow vegetables and herbs for their dishes, allowing them to create a farm-to-table experience.
And while cold snaps like the one Eastern Oregon is currently experiencing can be brutal for farms across the region, the new greenhouse will have temperature controls so that students can continue to work on their plants throughout the cold weather months.