Western Christian students by greenhose

Western Christian High School students in one of Kylie Nettinga’s agriculture education classes transplant chrysanthemums from plastic cups into larger flower pots during the first week of the 2020-21 academic year. The plants were then placed in the school’s new greenhouse, which Nettinga plans to use for other class projects.

HULL—The process of getting a greenhouse planted at Western Christian High School took a few years, but Kylie Nettinga is happy it’s finally operational for the 2020-21 academic year.

“I’m really excited to have another outlet for kids to get outside and see something different,” said Nettinga, agriculture education teacher and FFA adviser at the private school in Hull.

In 2017, Nettinga received a grant from Farm Credit Services she applied for on behalf of the school’s FFA program to be put toward a greenhouse. The next few years involved putting together a plan for the structure.

The gardening structure, which is located by the northwest corner of the school near the baseball field, was finished March 13. Nettinga noted the unfortunate timing, given the coronavirus pandemic closed schools the following week.

“That week, we actually put some flowers in. We were planning to do vegetables and whatnot, but I had no children to help me,” Nettinga said.

Nonetheless, about a dozen flower varieties grew in the greenhouse, which were eventually sold to members of the public in May.

After that, Nettinga and her husband, Michael, decided to grow chrysanthemums in the greenhouse during the remainder of the summer.

The first week of classes this academic year, Nettinga’s students transplanted the budding flowers from plastic cups into larger flower pots to be placed inside the greenhouse. The flowers were available for sale during Friday’s home football game against Hinton.

Nettinga has more ideas for how to use the greenhouse this fall season. One idea is to try growing vegetables to make salsa, which her students would sell to the community.

“Once our seeds come in for our salsa garden, I’m planning to have my ag business class be a part of that,” she said.

Nettinga hopes to incorporate the greenhouse into other classes she teaches, such as introduction to agriculture, animal science and agriculture food and natural resources.

“I’m trying to be creative and think of ways that I can bring in learning more so with it,” she said. “We want to use it to our full potential.”

In the spring, Nettinga tentatively plans on growing flowers in the greenhouse again as well as more vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and onions.

She also mentioned the possibility of growing succulents.

“Those are kind of a hot item lately,” Nettinga said.

The plants would be put up for sale in May until they are gone.

Besides being used for classes, the greenhouse also will be a resource students in the school’s FFA program could use.

“We definitely want this to be something that, if I have a student that wants to do a project for themselves as a supervised ag experience, they could use the greenhouse for that as well,” Nettinga said.