SHS greenhouse is growing strong


Last updated 6/7/2022 at Noon


Amy Johnson, Soren Smith, Kaci Rae Christopher, and Kaleb Woods, Greenhouse Club president, showing their wares at Sisters Farmers Market.

Since the Sisters High School (SHS) greenhouse opened in 2016, it’s been used for many science and occupational training activities. It serves as a classroom and lab for science students. A state-of-the-art design, it’s used to grow starts and hanging baskets sold to raise funds for greenhouse expenses and programming. The space also provides opportunities for Amy Johnson’s students in the Youth Transition Program. Johnson, a transitions specialist employed by the Sisters School District, teaches students from age 14 to 21.

Kaci Rae Christopher is a paraprofessional at SHS. She teaches classes in the greenhouse and oversees outdoor growing areas.

“We have a mix of kids, some from the transition program and general education students. The greenhouse is a space of possibilities and so many opportunities that we’re slowly growing into,” said Christopher.

Having a space where people can interact and work together has provided opportunities for students to expand and discover personal skills and interests. At the first Sisters Farmers Market, students from the greenhouse club were selling plants to raise money for greenhouse expenses.

“The fundraising effort is student-led from freshman to seniors. Some students have Individualized Education Plans (IEP), and some are in the Youth Transition Program, and some aren’t. They’re all working together growing and selling plants in the greenhouse,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s Youth Transition Program (YTP) got involved with the greenhouse two years ago during COVID. At the time, Seed to Table (S2T) was managing the greenhouse. Johnson knew the building’s full potential wasn’t being utilized. “After spring planting the greenhouse sat unused with a few biology classes being taught. During COVID-19, it was a great space for our kids to learn work skills through gardening and planting,” said Johnson. “We could do work evaluations while being outside. Audrey Tehan gave us leeway with what we wanted to do. Now it’s exploded with activities,” said Johnson.

With all her responsibilities as a transitions specialist, Johnson asked Christopher to step in.

“She’s a published author of a school garden curriculum, has taught school garden programs in Portland, and has a huge amount of knowledge about it. I happily passed it on to her. She’s taken the program in new directions with her greenhouse class. Now there’s a greenhouse club formed by students who are really taking the lead on the care and maintenance of the plants. It’s been really neat to watch a student-led club versus us trying to wrangle students to help,” said Johnson.

S2T’s role supporting the greenhouse has shifted from hands-on to fiscal support.

“They still provide on-call support if we need expertise or materials. They’re always ready to have someone come out and diagnose issues with pests or plants. Hannah Joseph and Audrey Tehan are a presence and support,” said Christopher. “Seed to Table provides funding for greenhouse activities and sponsored my flight to go to the Growing School Garden National Summit on garden education. That was a huge help. I presented on the work Amy and I have been doing.”

Being nationally recognized for their work as instructors using the greenhouse to inspire and teach students has been a great experience. Both women have learned from other school-based greenhouse programs.

“I co-presented with a special education teacher from the Detroit School District,” said Christopher.

“I felt kind of like the country mouse.

It was interesting to have that juxtaposition.

I tried to represent our students and community and the context we’re growing and working in.

The Detroit teacher had a huge program with lots of resources,” she said.

“I took voice recordings from students and what they’d learned working in the greenhouse.

Amy did the interviews, and they really reflected our students.

I got good feedback from that.


The Sisters High School greenhouse serves as a practical science lab for education programs.

The emphasis was how important community connections are like Seed to Table, local businesses, and staff members.

We had a slide devoted to the people and organizations that support us.

Our strength is in our students’ voices and the strong community support for the work we’re doing.

It was neat to represent Sisters along with lots of very large cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans.”

The greenhouse was originally created and funded by the Sisters Science Club. Member David Hiller is thrilled to see how the greenhouse he helped create with Cal Allen and so many Science Club volunteers is thriving and growing.

“I’m proud of what they’re doing now,” Hiller said. “Audrey invited me to be in the greenhouse last year. They’ve got some great things going with the kids planting in the greenhouse and going out to Seed to Table.”


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https:// Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024