WV School Garden Toolkit

written for and by west virginia school gardeners

The “Snow Day” : an Unexpected Challenge

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By Emily Landseidel, AmeriCorps Farm to School Coordinator, Greenbrier County, WV

For teachers and students alike, the phrase, “snow day” is a welcomed message. Indeed, I remember anxiously waiting, watching for my city’s name to scroll across the bottom of the news channel announcing, officially, “snow day!”, unofficially proclaiming: “freedom!”

Now however, as an AmeriCorps member working in schools, who is ultimately committed to a certain amount of service hours, regardless of whether or not school is in session, these weather-related days off are a challenge.  And oddly enough, I did not expect this to be such a big challenge (we have had 3-day school weeks the entire month of January). I expected to run into some challenges with getting students to stay on over the summer months but I naively thought that at least with greenhouses, throughout the school year, I would have the time to develop and refine my lesson plans and have a steady workforce.

Without this inclement weather school holiday today, for example, I had meetings scheduled with two classes. One was slated to help me do research and planning for the outdoor garden classroom we will be building in the spring (Today was going to be my third attempt at teaching this lesson to this group of students; all other attempts also thwarted by inclement weather). The second was to be transplanting tomato plants (that, after a few sunny 60F days in January, are wildly overdue for a move to a bigger home), introducing the tomato plants to dowels for vining support, and watering.

Let me say that I understand, totally and completely, why school needs to be cancelled, indeed, last night I was almost stuck on the other side of the county due to high waters after 8 hours of heavy rains but as a Farm to School Coordinator, with plants that need tending and gardens that need planning, regardless of the weather, “snow days” are no longer something I relish. Rather, I am beginning to despise them (almost as much as a burger from a fast food chain).

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Now today, as a result of the inclement weather, I sit at home, in front of my computer, hatching plans and doing research, learning, pushing back my greenhouse maintenance plan (yet again), and hoping, always hoping, that I will not receive a text message that says, “UPDATE: All schools in xxxx County will now be closed on Fri. Feb. 1, 2013 due to weather conditions.”

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