Beaumont Homer Drive Elementary School Receives $5,000 Grant and Lowe’s Helps Young People get a “T.A.S.T.E. of Business Success” with Donation

Beaumont, TX – Homer Drive Elementary, in partnership with Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension’s Teaching Agricultural Sustainability Through Economics (T.A.S.T.E) Program has received a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant for their afterschool entrepreneurship/gardening project.

We are thrilled to announce that Lowe’s has awarded Homer Drive Elementary funding for the afterschool entrepreneurship/gardening club and the funding will be used to construct an outdoor classroom/greenhouse observatory. The grant application was based on the goal of continuing the T.A.S.T.E. program at Homer. The T.A.S.T.E. Business/Gardening project teaches youth, families, and senior citizens the value of growing crops for better nutrition, improved health, business creation, and utilization of mother earth’s resources to increase income. T.A.S.T.E. also reinforces all of the federal S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and agriculture (S.T.E.A.M) disciplines while providing valuable life, learning and communications skills to all participants.

Beaumont School DistrictOver the past two years, students participating in the Texas ACE (After School Centers for Education) Program at Homer Drive have learned about planting, caring for and harvesting various types of vegetables. The courses were taught by Prairie View A&M University Community and Economic Development agents Lloyd Hebert and Winnefred Jackson. In addition to learning about horticulture, the students are taught careers in agriculture and how they can use their understanding of crop production to start any kind of business. According to Community and Economic Development County Extension Agent Lloyd Hebert, “By immersing small business and agricultural skills into the standard curriculum at all academic levels, students gain proficiency in starting and managing income producing agribusiness enterprises. It also allows them the ability to expand their horizons and create jobs and workforce development for themselves, their families, their classmates, and local residents. T.A.S.T.E. represents Transformative Systemic Change for local, regional, national, and global school systems, both rural and urban”.

He went on to say, “In today’s turbulent economy, having a high school diploma with few marketable industry skills does not open the same opportunities as it once did. If our young people learn how to start their own business they never need to fear being unemployed and can be viable drivers’ of economic growth in their communities.” The College of Agriculture and Human Sciences at Prairie View A&M University is continuing its’ mission of “Growing Ideas, Impacting Lives” throughout Beaumont and the Southeast Texas region with this initiative. Through grants from the College and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the T.A.S.T.E. model has also been implemented at Beaumont’s Odom Academy Middle School and other project sites. This funding has been used at Odom Academy to add growing supplies, expand on-site garden space with additional fencing, as well as donate four goats from Prairie View A&M University’s International Goat Research Center. Youth entrepreneurial, ecological and leadership activities continue at the consortium’s primary T.A.S.T.E. non-profit partner site at Langetree DUCKFARM & Eco Retreat Center in Liberty County.

Research scientists located in the Universities’ Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) will provide crop growth feasibility studies, soil analysis, chart growth rates, and supply soil fertility levels. Scientists will also conduct site visits and provide demonstration training to youth in the areas of plant science and water hydrology.

In commenting to Mr. Lloyd Hebert about the program, Homer Drive Principal Ava Colbert said, “We are so fortunate to have you and T.A.S.T.E. as partners to our beloved Homer Drive Elementary School. You have helped to implement some rich educational programs for our students. I’m so excited about the latest grants. Thanks so much for all you do for our students”. The Homer Drive outdoor classroom/greenhouse/observatory is scheduled to be installed at the school in October.

T.A.S.T.E. team partners also were successful in acquiring a $5,000 Lowe’s grant for a greenhouse at T.A.S.T.E. partner Liberty Elementary School and a $ 2,730 CDBG award from the City of Beaumont to purchase soil for the Homer Elementary, Odom Academy and Growing Community Inc. youth sites in Beaumont. Plans are currently underway to secure 30 x 30 ft. concrete slabs, seedlings, and other equipment for the sites.

If you would like more information about the T.A.S.T.E. program, please contact Jefferson County Community and Economic Development Agent, Lloyd Hebert at (409)835-8461, lj-hebert@tamu.edu or Liberty County Community & Economic Development Agent, Winnefred Jackson at (936)334-3229, wijackson@pvamu.edu. For a more descriptive explanation of T.A.S.T.E., please take a look at our brief promotional video at https://vimeo.com/61822985.