Environmentally Crafted Minds


Maria Lopez, Cactus Staff Writer

Although known for its mature learning en­vironment, Central Arizona College’s Signal Peak campus plays host to a group of very young, junior farmers.

From first graders to fourth graders, these young farmers inhabit our campus as participants of the Natural Resource Education Center (NREC). The NREC special­izes in teaching a variety of agricultural projects ranging from planting corn to starting a syphon using pipes for irri­gation. Beginning October 14, the third grade farmers will begin exploring the anatomy of corn for a full six weeks.

Program director, Loralee Wuertz, explains the schedule for these upcoming six weeks, “we show them a five minute video of the corn and all the different corn products, then we’ll break them up into cen­ters, for example at one cen­ter they recycle biodegradable products by making corn plas­tic out of corn starch.” As part of these six weeks, the NREC has already constructed their own corn stock to work with.

After the six-week study of corn is complete, a new group of junior farmers will be intro­duced to our campus. The area of specialty the farmers learn about depends upon their class level. “Each program is geared for a different class level, like the corn is geared towards third graders, and the dairy program is geared towards first graders. Then we have the five C’s, which is structured for fourth grad­ers and meets all the states standards”, explains Loralee Wuertz.

Where can they be spotted? As part of our Signal Peak community, these little farm­ers will be seen around our campus working on their ag­ricultural projects. If you en­counter them on your way to class, do not panic that you’re at the wrong school — just keep in mind that there may be possible stares, smiles, waves, and maybe even “Hi’s”. Perhaps respond back with a wave or a smile, which is a great way to encourage and acknowledge their hard work. The technique of lectur­ing and hands-on training has got many young farmers returning for more. The next program is starting on Octo­ber 14, meeting every Tues­day and Thursday. Whether you want to see the artwork in their classroom, or are in­trigued with the program itself, head on over to their workshop located at the Sig­nal Peak campus between the baseball and track field. After seeing their crafty workshop, the only words escaping your mouth will be “where do I sign up?”