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News from 2022-2023

Posted: May 22, 2023

Heinrich Visits Wilson Middle School Garden

Senator is pushing legislation to fund more school gardens and provide free meals to students across the country.

Sen. Martin Heinrich tours Wilson Middle School's garden on Friday.

Sen. Martin Heinrich tours Wilson Middle School's garden on Friday.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich was treated to a student-led tour of Wilson Middle School’s community garden on Friday as he took a moment to highlight the importance of two initiatives he’s pushing for in Washington, D.C.

One of those bills would establish a grant program to help schools throughout the country create outdoor learning spaces, like the Wilson Middle School garden. Heinrich is sponsoring that legislation, called the Living Schoolyards Act of 2022. The other, sponsored by Heinrich and several of his colleagues, would provide free breakfast and lunch to students.

“It’s great to see the leadership here on the ground on things that I’m trying to gather momentum for in Washington, D.C.,” Heinrich said after the tour. He noted that when he was growing up, he’d disappear into the outdoors for hours after school each day and explore creeks, farm fields, and forests.

“What I thought I was doing was just having fun, and the reality is I was learning,” the senator said, noting that it inspired his interest in science and biology. But these days, he added, most students don’t live in a place where they can disappear into the outdoors for hours after school.

“So building these very intentional outdoor living landscapes that really help create a better learning environment inside the school is really important,” Heinrich said. “And at a time when so much of our learning landscapes are covered, unfortunately, at many schools in concrete and asphalt, having these living landscapes that teach, it’s something that is going to catch on more and more.”

He also praised New Mexico for adopting state legislation this year that will make breakfast and lunch free for New Mexico students. He said that’s something the country, as a whole, needs to embrace.

“As we’ve seen schools adopt that across the country, the data suggests that is the equivalent of adding six to 10 weeks of school every year,” Heinrich said. “Which is just incredible when you think about that.”

Heinrich was joined on the tour by Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, Majority Whip Michael Padilla, both Albuquerque Democrats, Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Espanola, Rep. Janelle Anyanonu, D-Albuquerque, Superintendent Scott Elder and Board of Education member Barbara Petersen, among others.

Stewart praised Wilson Middle School and its creative teachers, students, and principal. She said she visited the garden five years ago and it’s “so much better now.”

“This school garden started long ago,” Petersen said. “This school garden started as a vision of the community.” But she added that school districts like APS can’t scale those projects up without the help of lawmakers.

Tags: Core Schools