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John Hardin High School awarded grant to expand it's unique program

WLKY Louisville logo WLKY Louisville 8/9/2022
john hardin ag grant © Paul Ahman john hardin ag grant

John Hardin High School integrated hydroponic technology into its agriculture program almost four years ago. On Tuesday, the school was awarded a grant to expand the program, thanks to its success.

The United States Department of Agriculture is giving the high school a $48,071 grant, which will be integrated into the program over the course of two years.

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In the school's agriculture program, students grow lettuce and farm tilapia in the school's indoor lab. The lettuce that is grown is sold back to the school's cafeteria, and the tilapia harvested goes to a local food bank.

With the grant, the school will create a dual credit horticulture course and an embedded school-based enterprise.

Teacher Jeremy Hall says that over the course of four years, the students will get to experience what all it takes to run an agriculture business.

" will be involved in all of the aspects of marketing curriculum, the science, the biology, everything that goes into producing a healthy harvest of food," Jeremy Hall said.

Seniors in the program will work on a capstone project that will include the use of a new mobile hydroponic lab, which they'll use as an educational outreach hub.

The students who are already involved love the program. Junior Catherine Updegraff says she really enjoys getting to help feed her fellow students and those who are food insecure in her town.

"So I'm really hoping that everything that we do back here just continues to grow and grow and grow so we can make a bigger impact than we already are," said Updegraff.

Senior Brayden Hall has been in the program since its inception in 2018. He says that with the growing population, the future of farming is dependent on finding new ways to produce fruits and vegetables.

He believes this type of farming could help build a more sustainable future for all. "Even in places like New York City where there's not a lot of land, this can be done," said Hall. "A lot of the cities now are coming into urban AG. I think that's where it's all going."

Jeremy Hall says he's glad his students are getting real-world experience.

"We've seen this big increase in STEM in our community in the state of Kentucky," said Jeremy Hall. "So I want our students to be at the forefront of that kind of technology, so they can go out and have successful careers."

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