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Posted May 13, 2013

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Horizon Grant Sows Seeds of Health, Nutrition and Culinary Excellence

Three Valley HS teachers recently planned an afternoon observation of hands-on activities and experiences funded from two Horizon Grants – Nutrition Health: A Focus on Diabetes in 2012 and What’s In My Food from 2010. Knowledge of nutrition as it relates to diseases like diabetes was the focus of the collaboration.

Valley HS students pose with microgreens raised as part of an Horizon Grant implementation focusing on nutrition. Teacher Susan Boretsky (left) is joined by students and Classroom Education Aides.

Visitors began in Susan Boretsky’s class with students explaining  hydroponics, indoor gardening including a variety of microgreens, and outdoor gardening.   The benefit of growing vegetables without dirt and indoors was explained in great detail by the student gardeners, who were especially proud of the outdoor garden with beans growing in a very distinct “V” shape in one of the school planters. Students in the class learned teamwork skills, the basics of gardening, plant requirements for growth, plant identification, and the life cycle of plants. 

The next half hour was spent in lead grant writer Arlene Rickard’s Nutrition classroom.  Student groups presented to visitors on a variety of topics like ph of foods, osmosis, fat solubility, distillation (and showing the sugar content in soda), and a stereomicroscopic look at the three parts of whole grains through the microscope.   Students were eager to explain topics like protein identification and the causes of cholesterol.   Most indicated they would try to eat healthier after the classroom learning they experienced this year. 

The remainder of the visit took place in Fara Pettus’ Culinary Arts lab.  Students there integrated all components of the grant project by preparing nutritious and delicious foods for those in attendance.  The menu included ancient whole grains like quinoa salad, faro salad, and bulgar salad, as well as anasazi beans (which date from 800 years ago) and fresh “Valley High School grown” microgreens with dressing. 

In the Horizon Grant Report, recently filed, the teachers stated, "Valley High School participants truly enjoyed and benefitted from the many opportunities provided by the APSEF Horizon Grant. The majority of our students have a family member or know someone with type 2 diabetes.  These close associations with the disease played a role in our students' interest level which helped with the success of our grant project."

Many of the students are now thinking about careers that have been explored through the components of this grant project.   One student in Ms. Boretsky’s class talked about the satisfaction he received from  the indoor/outdoor gardening  project and raising microgreens, and he hoped he could find a career that would allow him to do just that. Clearly, seeds of health and nutrition were effectively sown in these classes through innovative teaching and a little help from the Horizon program. 

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