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Secondary students in West Linn-Wilsonville School district made bouquets for staff and prepared for farm stand.

Last names were removed from this story to protect students' identities.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Tavin and another camper picked herbs from the garden.In between the neat rows of vegetables and flowers, eighth grader Tavin diligently plucks a herb from the soil before examining its details.

When it's up to his standard, he places it into a plastic bucket — the green leaf soon to be used in a flower bouquet.

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, secondary students from the West Linn-Wilsonville School District met at the Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies, commonly known as CREST, to learn the basics of farming business, and gardening.

The program was led by members of the CREST team, like Helena Kilstrom, the School Garden Coordinator.

"I love farming and I love making bouquets, and I think everything at the camp is really fun to learn about," said Tavin, who attends Inza R. Wood Middle School.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - A CREST camper collects flowers that will be used in a bouquet.

About 15 students met at CREST for the week-long camp 'Introduction to Farming Business', which included hands-on lessons on planting, harvesting, plant upkeep and assorting bouquets from the flowers students picked. The students would then learn how to market their goods with a real-world experience.

The introductory camp is the first of its kind at CREST. Becky Hancock, the youth transitions specialist at CREST said that the center wanted a class that catered towards every type of camper and also taught them valuable skills no matter what their interests or how they learned.

"The campers' skillsets range from beginners to 'I've lived on a farm' — and then everything in between. (CREST) really tries to break down the steps (of) harvesting, planting and farm business into small, doable tasks that are hands-on and are entry points to their interests and abilities," Hancock said.

Aside from agriculture, the campers also learned practical life skills like communication, teamwork, self-advocacy and problem-solving, according to Hancock.

Earlier in the week, the campers harvested blueberries and blackberries from the acreage, and then got the chance to bake them into muffins.

On Wednesday, the students spread out along the organization's gardens to gather natural supplies for handmade bouquets. The bouquets will also be given to the teachers and staff as they return to school in the next couple of weeks.

And on Thursday, Aug. 11, the campers and staff will pitch a table on the sidewalk outside CREST. The students will market their creations, learning customer service skills while showing off their hard work.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Campers of all interests and farm skill levels had the opportunity to learn more about gardening and farming at CREST this week.

Fiona, an eighth grader at Meridian Creek Middle School, joined the camp because it sounded fun and she wanted to learn more about farming. Throughout the week, she said she learned the basics of preserving flowers after they are picked and how to assemble them into picturesque bouquets.

"I'm excited for the stand and to (show off) the flower bouquets that we made," she said, clipping the tail off a taffy-pink flower.

Beside Fiona, Tavin plops a flower into a jar, then helps some of his fellow campers arrange the garlands.

"I've liked everything I've learned this entire week, especially making bouquets," Tavin said. "And I like helping other people here and making (CREST) a better place."

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Among other life skills, campers learned how to upkeep a garden.


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