The  Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District  (SWCD) is sharing the world of conservation and urban agriculture with at-risk students in Ohio through a $44,000  NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) grant .

Initially, the grant was secured with the plans to conduct monthly hands-on educational visits to seven Head Start classes this spring, as well as partnering with local FFA chapters to build raised beds for the Head Start centers’ gardens beginning in April. When Ohio closed all public schools and daycares in response to COVID-19, Ashland SWCD switched gears.

The funds helped hire Urban and Education Specialist  Becca Vales , who, although hired in the midst of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, hit the ground running with online lessons and social media posts.

Vales developed printed materials for Head Start programs, which the teachers could send to students’ homes every two weeks. This was also supplemented with a “#TeacherTuesday” video series, where students can tune in and follow along with the lessons and programs.

“This is not the way we anticipated launching our grant programming, and the topics we’re covering are not necessarily the same topics we would have covered in the classroom as we prepared to install raised bed gardens,”  Ashland SWCD Program Administrator Jane Houin said . “But I feel like we’ve turned lemons into lemonade.”