Encana donates $10,000 to Red River Parish 4-H Junior Leaders

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Salley, Joshua

News Release Distributed 05/31/11

COUSHATTA, La. – A $10,000 donation toward funding a community garden is a welcome addition for local residents through a donation given to the LSU AgCenter from Encana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc.

4-H youth as well as the community will soon have access to programs stemming from the garden that promote healthy living and active lifestyles.

The LSU AgCenter, 4-H Junior Leader Club, Celebrate Girls Club and Junior Master Gardeners will create and care for the community garden, said LSU AgCenter agent Josh Salley, a member of the beautification committee in Red River Parish.

Students will learn the importance of agriculture, healthful dietary habits, responsibility and caring for others with the goal  of donating the harvested produce to organizations such as the Red River Council on Aging, said LSU AgCenter agent Cindy Smith.

Members of the Red River Council on Aging who are able also will participate in the gardening, Salley said.

“We have done canned food drives, and the council has played food bingo to win extra items from the pantry,” Smith said. “With the new garden, fresh fruit will be included.”

Smith said 20 youth who worked in a garden at Springville Educational Center received their level-one Junior Master Gardener certificates in December.

“Encana donated money to the school for the gym and saw the garden and wondered about a community garden,” she said.

The educational center was the site for a fall container garden so the the youth could have hands-on learning experiences that will provide lifelong skills and promote healthy eating.

The garden was maintained by the students, Master Gardener Susan Wilson and school leaders, along with the LSU AgCenter agents Vicky Chesser, Salley and Smith.

The Junior Master Gardener program’s mission is to “grow good kids” by igniting a passion for learning, success and service through a unique gardening education. The curriculum includes independent and group learning experiences, life skills and career exploration and service-learning opportunities, Smith said.

The youth were responsible for locating the site, choosing the vegetables to plant, maintaining the daily care and harvesting. They met weekly for a series of educational programs and taste-testing activities with different vegetables.

Salley said he is putting together an advisory committee to plan where the community garden will be.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

6/1/2011 1:08:48 AM
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