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STUDYING PLANTS: Students turn seeds into dollars

May 7, 2012

WMS’s Clean World Association Club are Hannah Porter, Bethany Dixson, Verra Bredikhin, Emily Easterday, Stephanie Bauthman, Angel Moyer and Laura Thong-Umphai. In the back row, left to right are Jamie Bumbaugh, Shelby Kern, Joyce Hardy, co-sponsor, Emma Neely, Amanda Shell, Kaylene Brandenburger, Ryder Sroufe, Sarah Palmer, Raven Lemler and Emily Chairuz.— Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley

Whitko Middle School’s Clean World Association (CWA) was in full bloom at the Whitley County Farmer’s Market Saturday. The group of 15 students participate in this extracurricular club to learn about plants and gardening.
Laura Thong-Umphai, the group’s sponsor and a 6th grade science teacher at Whitko, explains. “They learn everything. Starting with sewing the seed, taking care of the plants, learning the variety and the needs of the plant. Now we are here today, the group is learning the business side of it.”
Thong-Umphai and her co-sponsor, Joyce Hardy a retired teacher, have worked together on this project for the past 10 years. Work begins as early as January in preparation for the market and the group’s February pre sale. These two sales help fund the group’s endeavors.
“We have a pre sale where the community orders from us starting in February. We fill the orders and they pick them up. This year we had 161 pre orders.”
Each student earns hours to be able to participate in the market sale as well as participation in summer events.
“The students have to earn 60 hours to work the plant sale. By the end of the year, they have to earn 80 hours for summer activities.”
CWA is unique to Whitko Middle School. A program of this nature is not offered at the high school and is ultimately a creation out of the minds of Thong-Umphai and Hardy. With help from the Whitley County Community Foundation, the group was able to procure a greenhouse which the school now helps to maintain.

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