Tucker County High School receives grant for greenhouse project

Tucker County High School received a $73,242 grant from the State Farm Insurance 2013 Youth Board to help with the school’s greenhouse project.

State Farm Insurance Public Affairs Specialist Erin Bailey said the competition for the grants was tough this year.

“The Youth Advisory Board received more than 800 applications for grants this year,” Bailey said. “Tucker County High School is one of only 64 entities nationwide to receive a grant. It is very impressive. Shane Eakle is the one who wrote the grant with the help of the students.”

Bailey said the grant is the largest she has ever seen in her coverage area.

“Also noteworthy is the fact that this is the first time every member of the Youth Advisory Board has voted unanimously to approve a grant,” Bailey said.

Parsons State Farm Insurance Agent Bob Gutshall said he recommended the school apply for the grant.

“Mr. Eakle did a great job when he did this,” Gutshall said. “What I really think helped impact on the grant award was the fact that he had the students help write the grant.”

The State Farm Insurance Youth Board is made up of 30 students, age 17 to 20 years old, from across the U.S. and Canada that manage an annual $5 million budget. The group uses the money to fund student-led service-learning projects. Service learning is a teaching strategy that provides a connection between what is taught in the classroom to an application in the real world through research, identification of solutions and service.

The grant will provide high tunnel technology and canning instruction, track crops and their growth, and increase financial literacy and healthy food habits.

“It really was a group effort,” said Eakle. “The administration was gracious to give us the time for this project and the faculty are flexible in cooperating to help the kids get to the same place. If we did not have everybody on board, a lot of this would not be possible.”

Eakle said the area looked very different two years ago.

“This greenhouse was not here, and this was all trees,” Eakle said. “The snow here last October was four feet high and this entire structure was buried in the snow. We had to get an end loader in so the football team could play their final game, a day late.”

Eakle said the greenhouse is unique at such a high elevation.

“I believe this is the only one like this east of the Mississippi,” Eakle said. “Our kids have an advantage over kids in Morgantown or places like that. Now other schools are coming to see us and everybody is working together.”

Eakle said the school and students are very excited about the greenhouse and the classroom.

“We have received $250,000 in the last few years for the greenhouse project,” Eakle said. “Our students have put in more than $100,000 in labor hours. That gives you some idea of the manpower we are putting into this project. We only have 300 students in this school.”

“This is very high tech,” Eakle said. “We are very fortunate. We hope to be in this by spring.”