Fast Track Gardening

Using Agriculture as a Vehicle for Change through Experiential Learning


The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SUAREC) provides agricultural training to incarcerated and adjudicated youth. Training topics include communication and life skills, as well as horticultural and work force skills. Instruction involves both classroom and hands-on activities including the establishment of horticultural garden plots. Instructors utilize a community gardening curriculum that was developed by the SUAREC. Certificates are awarded upon successful completion of the program; they can be utilized to support applications at any horticultural-related establishment and for judge presentation at court to display program participation and compliance.

This program has been implemented at three facilities. Jetson Center for Youth (JCCY) was the pilot program that began in May, 2011 until the closure of the facility in January, 2014. Gardening classes were conducted twice a week. In response to Jetsonís abrupt closure, the program was established at THRIVE of Baton Rouge, a public charter boarding school that serves adjudicated students. Weekly classes at THRIVE began May, 2014 and presently continue. A garden at THRIVE was established and is currently maintained by students. We have also initiated a gardening program at the Bridge City Center for Youth in New Orleans, Louisiana. Several of the juveniles from JCCY were transferred there, and provide leadership in the project.

Future plans include formalizing a memorandum of understanding with horticultural-related establishments to allow our graduates to obtain work opportunities upon release. We will also endeavor to establish internship/work release opportunities for selected trustworthy youth to afford work-related opportunities even while they are incarcerated.


   

 

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