A long-discussed construction project at Okoboji High School could take shape this spring.
School officials in Milford are finalizing plans for a $40,000 greenhouse. The completed structure will help instructors teach students about various plant species throughout the world while giving them an up-close and personal look at horticulture.
"I felt it would be good for students to get some hands-on experience with growing, raising and cutting different plants," said Rich Martin, the Agricultural Education teacher at Okoboji. "I teach horticulture for one of my classes and it kind of makes sense to have a greenhouse."
Talks began to ramp up within the past year, according to Martin. A location was selected for the building within the last few weeks. The greenhouse will be located on the west side of the high school between the baseball field and the ag classroom.
Blueprints call for a 20-foot by 30-foot facility with features in place for year-round use. Okoboji Superintendent Gary Janssen said the waterlines will be hooked up this week and plans for laying concrete will take place next week. The best case scenario is for the structure to be finished and ready for students by the middle of the spring semester.
"We are hoping to get students and volunteers from the community to help with the construction to keep some of the cost down," Janssen said.
Throughout the past year, Martin and his students have been hard at work raising funds through fruit and pumpkin sales. They also received a chunk of money from Pioneer Seeds.
"It's been kind of hard to grasp," Martin said of the realization of construction beginning. "We've been waiting for a while and finally they will be breaking ground. It's exciting."
Groundbreaking is set to be held within the next few days.
"I think it will be a great opportunity for teachers to expand their curriculum," Janssen said. "And anytime you can expand in that area of hands-on with kids, the learning is more meaningful - not only through horticulture but a lot of different applications."
Martin said the school district may eventually have the option of adding school-grown produce to the district's school lunch menu.
"With the kids having some hands-on experience in the greenhouse learning how to grow things and maintaining a garden - it will be one of those skills that they will always be able to take with them in life," Martin said. "I think by having a greenhouse, they will be able to learn first-hand all those skills."