ROY -- Roy High School agriculture students are planting seeds to grow their understanding of the botanical world.
The school's new greenhouse makes its public debut at an open house March 28, but four soil science classes already have gotten their hands dirty and learned a few life lessons.
"The growing of food is the largest industry in the world," said Charlie Nielson, Roy High's Career and Technical Education director. "We'd better teach kids to grow food, so we don't go hungry."
The $50,000 greenhouse was built with CTE funds. Agriculture coursework also is available at Weber and Fremont high schools, and both of those schools also have a greenhouse.
"We had interest expressed by the community and students to start an ag program at Roy, so we started looking into it," Nielson said.
The school had an existing greenhouse that would have cost more than $50,000 to repair and that already is being used by an aquatic science class to raise fish in a chilly environment, Nielson said.
Plant germination requires warmth.
The new 40-by-50-foot structure has room for 14 growing tables. It has fans and a swamp cooler for warm weather, and heaters for the coldest months of winter. A watering system is suspended above.
But when outdoor temperatures recently hit 60 and the cooling system failed to turn on, due to either mechanical or human error, temperatures in the structure reached 120 degrees, killing a few flats of marigolds that were beginning to grow and baking the pansy seeds so they never germinated.
"They watched their first crop die," Melisa Griffith, plant science teacher, said of students.
"It was a good lesson about the life cycle, and about being responsible. One of the joys of agricultural literacy is that students also learn life lessons."
Griffin said planting and caring for their "crops" also teaches the 100 or so agricultural students planning, attention to detail and the value of hard work.
Students were pressing new seeds into potting soil earlier this week, with crops to include multiple varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowering plants.
Barring another botanical tragedy, the group plans to hold a plant sale in May to help pay some of the cost of running the greenhouse.
Student Taylor Sandlin, 18 and a member of Future Farmers of America, said everyone seems to be enjoying the seed planting.
"It's nice because it's hands-on," said Taylor, who hopes to pursue a culinary career. "Everybody learns better when it's hands-on."
Jacob Stanger, 16, hopes for a military career but thinks he'll grow a home garden in the future.
"It will be vegetables, something I can eat," he said with a laugh. "I've learned a lot about planting and watering. I think gardening will be easier than I thought."
David Chadbourne, 18, hasn't decided on a career but foresees gardening somewhere in his future.
"It has been quite a bit of fun," he said of the agriculture class and greenhouse work.
"It's been interesting to plant. I'm excited to see how it all turns out."