Armed with 16 oz Mason jars, gloves and hand spades, Hanna Hopp was ready
for her class. Hanna, a horticulturist with the
Campbell County Extension Office, was invited by Abby Miller in
Rehabilitation Services to discuss soil texture with children enrolled in the
Individuals Combining Activity and Nutrition (ICAN) Garden Project that began in late May.
“Abby has told me that you have briefly discussed soils in a previous
session. So, can one of you tell me which soil is the smoothest or stickiest
in texture?” Hanna said to the children.
“Sand?” called out Alyvia.
“No, it’s clay” said Alex. Clay it is.
Soil textures are among several learning exercises some 12
elementary-school aged children will learn about during this year’s ICAN Garden Project.
The third year the Garden Project has been offered, Abby is excited to
see that there are more children enrolled in this year’s session
than the previous year.
ICAN began in 2009, and coincided with the school year. It’s a way
for children and teens to learn how to make eating healthy and being active
fun. Abby started the Garden Project as a way to keep the ICAN project
running throughout the summer, as well as to make it available to more
people in the community. Students enrolled in the Garden Project come
from 4-J School, Buffalo Ridge Elementary School, John Paul II Catholic
School and Wagonwheel Elementary School.
Students and their parents attend two sessions a week from June to mid-August
and learn about soils, bees, weeds, pollinators, as well as tour hoop
houses and green houses near
Gillette College. On days there isn’t a speaker, Abby or Jamie Mooney, Case Management,
will discuss nutrition with the children, covering everything from why
gardening is important to what is a nutrient.
And, the students do all of the work. “They helped plant the vegetables,
weed, water and when it’s time, they get to harvest their produce,”
The overall goal of the program is to teach children how to live a healthy
lifestyle. “You know that well-known proverb, ‘If you give
a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed
him for a lifetime.’ Well, that’s what I hope I’m doing
here—teaching these kids how to feed themselves for a lifetime,
the healthy way,” Abby says. “So many kids think that food
comes from grocery stores. When they have a hand in growing their own
food, they understand where food comes from and that agriculture is an
important part of our society.”
And that’s not all. Studies have shown that children who participate
in growing their own food are more willing to experiment with vegetables.
According to Abby, parents have told her that their children would never
try a tomato at home, but once they grew one in their garden, they were
more open to tasting it. Gardening also helps reduce stress, gives the
children a sense of pride, helps to keep children active, and strengthens
the bond between the children and their parents.
The project is supported by a grant from the
Campbell County Community Parks and Recreation District grant, as well as help from the
Campbell County Conservation District, Campbell County Extension Office,
Campbell County High School Skills USA class, Campbell County Weed and Pest,
City of Gillette, as well as David Mullins, a hobby beekeeper. These entities have given
their time and energy to either give a presentation during one of the
sessions, or, as the CCHS Skills USA class did, constructed the raised
garden beds, helped move soil and till.
See more photos from the ICAN Garden Project on
Campbell County Health
Rehabilitation Services in Gillette, Wyoming strives to help you and your family reach your maximum
potential through a variety of programs. For youth, CCH offers two options:
Excel Athletic Performance Program and the ICAN Program. All sessions
are held at Campbell County Health Rehabilitation Services in the upper
level of the Stocktrail Building in Gillette, Wyoming—on the corner
of Sixth Street and Stocktrail Avenue. Both programs have sessions starting
up in August; for session times and to register please call 307.688.8000.
Learn more about these programs at