Keep Our School Beautiful club participates in competition

KOSB club to receive 50 plants for the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge

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KOSB club’s plants for the Hillsborough Conservation 100 Challenge.

Hanna Malone, Staff Writer

This year, the Keep Our School Beautiful Club, KOSB, will be participating in the 4th annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge.

This competition is sponsored by the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District and encourages students to participate in a variety of competitions in order to educate and inspire others to protect resources and better the environment overall, and to promote stewardship and environmental protection. Some of the competitions included in the challenge are clean-ups, gardening, recycling, pollution awareness, poster-making, speeches advocating for environmental protection,  etc..

Robinson’s team will be growing a garden behind the culinary room as a part of the challenge’s Lipman Gardening Competition.

The Keep Our School Beautiful club will be acquiring 42 tomato plants and eight squash plants from Apollo Beach, free of charge through the competition’s sponsors. They are expected to be between 3 to 4 inches tall when they arrive.

Already, KOSB has received a $100 gift card to Walmart from the Soil and Water Conservation District to cover expenses of soil, enrichment, fertilizer, watering systems, and other materials necessary for gardening, as well as two raised beds for the plants. Other expenses will be covered through donations and fundraisers.

Originally, the plants were supposed to arrive the week before Thanksgiving break. However, the directors of the competition changed the start and end date so that the plants would be more successful. The plants arrived on Friday, December 6th, so that they could be established before Winter break, and are expected to be judged on their growth, productivity, bio mass, and health come early March.

Over 10 schools are competing alongside Robinson’s KOSB club. Students competing have a chance to win agricultural scholarships, cash and publicity, as well as a plaque.

There are between eight to ten people on the gardening crew who actively participate and work on the garden’s planning and construction.

“I think it’s really cool to see everybody so excited about it,” Summer Soloman, the KOSB club sponsor and the earth science teacher at Robinson, said. “A lot of people have reached out to me and expressed interest in helping us. It’s great that we have so much support from teachers, administrators, and the student body. We just want to evolve and progress in order to make the garden become more of a program to make an impact on the school.”

After the plants are judged in March, they will stay on school grounds. The plan is to use the tomatoes and squash in culinary class, and grow the garden in order to produce other things such as herbs, and even flowers.

“We are also talking over the idea of eventually allowing the garden to be a place where students could have the opportunity to walk through, and adding native pollinating  plants in order for the fruits to be more productive and to further beautify our school,” Soloman said.

KOSB does not plan on stopping the competition after being judged. The garden will stick around, and Keep Our School Beautiful has plans to expand from tomatoes on to other things in order to further embellish Robinson.

“I just want to see how it goes this year, and see the level of interest. If people are interested in expanding it, I really want to be a part of that. In the past I’ve worked in schools where we’ve built gardens and it’s been tremendously fun, and therapeutic, and exciting.” Soloman said. “It’s a great place to be, and I’m happy for the opportunity to compete in the competion and work with KOSB.”

Find out more information on how you can get involved in the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge individually at http://hillssoilandwater.org/hillsborough-100, or contact Summer Soloman for educational and environmentalist opportunities involving KOSB in room 143.