Horizon High beneficiary of greenhouse on campus

UW Extension Educator Jeff Edwards (top) and University of Wyoming Cent$ible Nutrition Program Educator in Uinta County Beth Barker (right) work alongside students to complete a greenhouse at Horizon High School in Evanston. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Horizon High School was fortunate to be the recent recipient of an 18-foot dome hexagon shaped greenhouse due to the efforts of University of Wyoming Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP) Educator in Uinta County Beth Barker. Barker asked Horizon principal Shad Hamilton if the school would be interested in a greenhouse to educate students in a variety of disciplines.  

Hamilton conferred with culinary arts teacher Candi DeCoite, science teacher Denise Barker and building trades teacher Casey Ingersoll. All agreed that a greenhouse would provide lots of practical educational opportunities. Beth Barker then contacted Jeff Edwards, extension educator at the University of Wyoming, and they began the process to bring a greenhouse to Evanston.

“Our current plan with the greenhouse is to use it for science and culinary classes,” principal Hamilton said. “We also hope to use it for some community service projects.  The idea of using it to start flowers and plants that could be used for décor and produce by the city or other organizations in need has been discussed.”

Through a block grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools are able to receive a greenhouse. The grant is distributed through the University of Wyoming Department of Education’s Specialty Crop Program.  

Other recipients of greenhouses include the UW Extension in Afton, the Arapaho Reservation school; a Casper elementary school; a school in Baggs and a school in Guernsey.

Horizon was chosen to receive a greenhouse and a team of builders: Coleman Griffith of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture; Kali Goodenough, UW Marketing Coordinator for CNP; CNP videographer Lindsay Hadfield and Wyoming Department of Grants Manager Ted Craig. They arrived early on the morning of the Aug. 28, to work with students to build the structure. 

The hexagon shaped dome is Griffith’s design, one that resembles an interlocking jigsaw puzzle.  Previously constructed wood panels were bolted together to form the foundation in the shape of a hexagon. Attached to the foundation are 2x4 beams fitted with a hole in one end that was secured to a screw coming out of the foundation boards. On the other end of the 2x4 is an extended screw that fits into a hole drilled into a piece of PVC pipe used as a coupler to allow the beams to come together in a pyramid shape.

As the structure rose, it formed a dome at the top. The screw ends inside the PVC pipe were then tightened down with nuts. As the students and staff worked, the greenhouse began to rise from its placement on the concrete sidewalk in front of the school. Its location gives easy access for the teachers and students who will be using it for class work.

After two days, with the help of students from the building trades and science classes, the wooden structure was assembled and ready for the plastic cover, which was on order. A team planned to return at a later date to cover the structure with the plastic and build a door into the greenhouse.  

At last, on Nov. 4 and 5, the plastic cover had arrived and a new group of University of Wyoming staff came to complete the greenhouse. Edwards supervised and led the construction. Assisting Edwards were Beth Barker, UW office assistant Camille Andersen, Uinta County 4-H Educator McKenna Brinton and Uinta County Agriculture Extension Coordinator Bridger Feuz. 

Once again, students helped in the entire building process. On the first day, the team built and installed the door. The second day, Edwards, the students and other staff pulled the huge, heavy piece of plastic up and over the dome. Edwards then had the students hand him the boards to secure the plastic to the beams as he worked his way on a ladder up and around the dome.

Throughout the day, Edwards climbed to the top of the dome, straddling it by placing his feet on the beams to secure the plastic down with the boards. Students and staff had prepared the boards earlier by drilling holes across them in order for Edwards to easily place screws as he secured them over the plastic to the beams on the dome. Students and staff pulled on the plastic as Edwards worked to ensure it was tight.

When Edwards reached a point where there was too much plastic, he folded it and secured it down. Later, when the plastic was all secured to the entire dome, Edwards cut off the excess plastic so it was tight, secure and neat. The greenhouse was then finished and is now ready for educational use.

“Students in my class will build raised beds and be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the greenhouse,” Ingersoll said.

“We hope to start micro-greens in the spring and possibly leafy vegetables to use in culinary arts classes before the end of school. There has also been discussion of growing flowers,” DeCoite said. “We are still working on that.”

Denise Barker said, “In science class, we will focus on the conditions of growing plants in the greenhouse. This can range from soil type, temperature, light allowance and more. I think in the future we would like to look into different growing conditions like hydroponics.”

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