What started as a service learning project for high school students is literally blossoming in the Fishers community. In the summer of 2016, Fishers City Councilmen Todd Zimmerman and Eric Moeller provided seed money to the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation. The funds were intended to provide a hands on, service learning opportunity for high school students in the area of philanthropy. Eight students were challenged to collect applications, establish selection criteria, and administer the process. Students were forced to wrestle with competing priorities and complex questions like return on investment and student impact.
The unanimous selection was “Growing Starts Here,” an innovative hydroponic garden concept developed by Denise Jarrett, Teresa Miller, and Lori Fox of Fishers Elementary School. Hamilton Southeastern High School student, Haeli Juthani, describes the selection, we were excited to provide an opportunity for “students to be a part of the school community lunch program while also learning the importance of a healthy lifestyle and taking responsibility of maintaining and caring for the plants. Both students and staff will learn the importance of water conservation, the need for more good with less available space, and the effects of pesticides in all ecosystems.”
In her proposal, Denise Jarrett highlighted that Fishers Elementary desires to be a catalyst for the HSE school system and for the community at large in establishing a connection between healthy minds and healthy bodies. This idea is supported by principal Brian Sloan, “I feel [the hydroponic garden] has the potential to bring more students into various science and project based learning.”
The Zimmerman Moeller model, where students are impacting other students, their schools, and their community is one the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation hopes to not only continue but to expand.