Gardening program ‘ACE’ in the hole for SCC

Anna Rouse discusses some of the latest creations by students Jamie Rackley, top, Dwayne Owens, Center, and Barbara Martin.

Growing takes on a whole new meaning in Sampson Community College’s ACE Program (Academy of Continuing Excellence). There’s personal growth and then there’s the type that comes from the earth.

The ACE program is a comprehensive curriculum used with adults with intellectual disabilities. The program provides a chance for the learner to develop a higher level of independence by focusing on academic, social, vocational and life skills needed to further their education, gain meaningful employment and fulfill their goals.

The (ACE Program) at SCC has three sites — main campus Roseboro, and ADVP, located at the county complex. Anna Rouse is the literacy instructor at the main campus site. The on-campus site is using different approaches to incorporate vocational interests of students into the ACE program curriculum and eventually integrate the off campus sites with hands-on approaches.

This semester, Rouse’s students have been learning and exploring about planting and growing different varieties of flowers and vegetables. Students started in late February planting seeds in seed trays in the classroom. The seeds planted and studied included Shasta Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, Cockscomb, Zinnia, cucumbers, butterbeans, and corn.

Students have also planted tomatoes, watermelons and various other flowers and vegetables, all purchased by the class. The class has also been working closely with a Sampson County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Shelby Blanchard, to learn specific techniques about planting and maintaining a garden.

The class has also used charts to keep track of seedling growth and development of plants until the weather allowed them to transplant the seedlings in pots on the patio as well as in planter boxes at the college greenhouses.

Students are developing skills that could one day help them obtain a job in the horticulture industry or grow their own vegetables to eat. They have gained responsibility and increased their knowledge of science and biology as well as gained a healthy respect of the nature that surrounds everyone every day.

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