When Layne Langley, LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent- West Feliciana Parish, received an email from West Feliciana Saints Head Football Coach Hudson Fuller looking for community service projects for his football team, she thought of a couple of volunteer opportunities throughout the parish and in St. Francisville. After talking with Bains Lower Elementary Play 60 Coach Lanya Mayer, the two of them tossed around the idea of joining forces with the football players to prepare the school garden beds at Bains Lower Elementary (BLE) and Bains Elementary.
Coach Fuller offered the help of his 65-70 players and football coaches. It was decided that on June 17 as part of football practice, the team would divide and conquer with half of the players volunteering at BLE and the other half volunteering at Bains Elementary. Mayer and Langley worked with the players to remove the weeds at BLE while LSU Horticulture Agent, Jessie Hoover and 4-H Youth Development Agent, Katlin Lucas worked with the players to repair the beds and pull weeds at Bains Elementary.
The proverb “Many hands make light work” could not have been more evident than on this day. The players jumped right in- grabbing shovels, hoes, and trowels to get the job done. They worked together to clear the overgrown beds. Players also used hammers, drills, and an electric pole saw to repair those beds that needed TLC. The players’ enthusiasm was infectious. They worked hard and never complained about the task at hand or the heat.
As part of the Healthy Communities initiative, Langley teaches nutrition and school gardens at BLE during Play 60. She and Mayer incorporate nutrition and physical activity with the school garden lessons. At Bains Elementary, Hoover and Lucas teach school gardens to 2nd grade students.
On June 29, some of the football players will return to the school garden at BLE and assist the summer school students with planting pumpkin seeds, cucumber transplants, and squash. The hopes are that the cucumbers can be sampled when the children return to school in August and that the pumpkins are ready to harvest just in time for the BLE Fall Fest in October.
The LSU AgCenter- West Feliciana AgCenter office staff, BLE, and Bains Elementary are “gratefel” (Twitter hashtag coined by the West Feliciana Parish School Superintendent to celebrate all that we are grateful for in West Feliciana) to the West Feliciana Saints Football Team. Their help in preparing and repairing the school garden beds is greatly appreciated. Special thanks to Coach Fuller for his assistance in making this project happen and to the following Master Gardeners and their spouses for assisting with the project: Brenda and Tommy Ortis, Gayle and Gerald Daigle, Reese Craddock, and Becky Aucoin.
For more information about nutrition or school gardens in West Feliciana Parish, contact Layne Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 635-3614.
Head football coach Hudson Fuller and player, Hayden Travis, work to clear one of the garden beds.
Mathew Leet and JP Warner found using the shovels to clear the beds a big help.
Kameron Whitaker, Jaterius Johnson, and Dimitris Hardy unite forces to clear all the weeds from this bed.
Keller Patton helps Pre-K student, Bella Hannaman, use a shovel to uproot some weeds.
Jayden Moore works hard to remove weeds from this bed.
Master Gardener Brenda Ortis shows Dimitris Hardy how to cut back mint.
Task complete!! These West Feliciana Saints Football Players were excited to show off their clean beds. Photographed with the team and coaches are BLE Principal, Torrence Williams, BLE Assistant Principal, Elizabeth Bristow, LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent, Layne Langley, BLE Play 60 Coach Lanya Mayer. (Photo credit: Jill Moore)