PITTSBURG — Children got to hold wiggly worms and plant teeny tiny seeds in their own garden on Tuesday.
Children got a head start on learning about plants and nutrition at Choices Early Childhood Learning Center. They even took home a tin with a plant of their own.

Children — from infants to five year olds — all got their hands dirty while learning about plants.

Three-year-old Anthony Basauri helped fill a container with worms with his bare fingers with his classmate two-year-old Toweena Ogbodo and several others.

Four-year-old Jace Hawkins filled a tin with dirt with the help of grownups and then gently placed a plant inside to take home later that afternoon. In a vegetable garden, five-year-old Ahmir Mafield planted seeds alongside volunteer Chad Johnston whose child also had the opportunity to plant a garden.

Volunteers — parents, grandparents, Pittsburg State University Students, K-State Research Extension and Miracle-Gro representatives — all helped the children the children plant seeds and vegetables, label gardens with colored rocks.
“It’s so important to foster at a young age the importance of nutrition and healthy eating — and really the love of being outdoors — because so much these days children are inside or on screen time,” Choices Early Childhood Learning Center Site Director Amanda Pross said. “Putting them outside and expanding our classroom out here is our biggest hope that they will just find the love of the outdoors.”

The children were afforded this opportunity through a $5,000 grant from National Head Start Association, in coordination with Scotts Miracle-Gro. Only 10 grants are given nationally, following a grant writing process by the center and selection of grant recipients by the company.
“It’s always great to give kids new experiences,” Scotts Miracle-Gro Sales Manager Kent Patrick said. “It’s a great opportunity to build future gardeners … getting them into the garden space is really cool to see.”

Pross said the center hopes to collect enough vegetables from its garden to create a small market stand, and to also reach out to organizations such as The Lord’s Diner.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.