FSMS Garden Club

FSMS Gardening Club Receives McDonald's Golden Grant
Posted on 01/18/2023
Ohio native Leila Serrano didn’t grow up with gardening as part of her school curriculum. However, after seeing her daughter’s school begin a program and hearing about the opportunities that it afforded students, she soon became inspired to begin a gardening club at Factory Shoals Middle School. 

Today, the club at FSMS has grown to include several students and a garden with two raised beds, an indoor herb garden and more. And in December, the club received a $1,000 donation to help it continue to grow in the form of a McDonald’s Golden Grant. 

“I’m so excited for this grant,” said Serrano. “We really want to use this to grow the garden. One of the things we want is cinder blocks for landscaping, and those can be painted. They can be a lot of weight, but we have some adults who are willing to help out.”

McDonald’s Golden Grants program exists to support those who feed the minds of future generations by helping fund programs that fuel students’ imagination, education and growth in their communities. Teachers must submit applications to be chosen for one of ten $1,000 grants for a qualifying program. 

After becoming inspired to begin a gardening club at FSMS, Serrano, a speech language pathologist at the school, first spoke with Natalie Murray about how to get a gardening club off the ground. Murray, who was named National Agriculture Teacher of the Year last year, helped Serrano secure a $500 donation from Georgia Farm Bureau to help her get the garden going.

From there, Serrano decided to begin an agriculture club, and she says that her students took the reins of the club almost immediately. Now, with the $1,000 grant, she hopes to see the garden continue to grow to provide more learning opportunities for all students at the school. 

“Waste is something that bothers me, because a lot of students have no concept or connection of where their food actually comes from and the hard work that goes into growing it,” said Serrano. “Also, as a speech language pathologist, I have a lot of students who have special needs, and they can use the gardens. It’s an environment where all of them can spend time, be immersed in it, feel accepted and work on those social skills and life skills.”
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