Cherokee Nation donates money for outdoor learning space at Muskogee school

November 20, 2017

(L-R) Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Alice Robertson Junior High School seventh-grader Gabriel Cartlidge, former Tribal Councilor Don Garvin, Alice Robertson Junior High School seventh-grader Kaliah Brown and Tribal Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins stand inside a greenhouse that was built through a $29,000 donation from the Cherokee Nation.(L-R) Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Alice Robertson Junior High School seventh-grader Gabriel Cartlidge, former Tribal Councilor Don Garvin, Alice Robertson Junior High School seventh-grader Kaliah Brown and Tribal Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins stand inside a greenhouse that was built through a $29,000 donation from the Cherokee Nation.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Students at Alice Robertson Junior High School are getting hands-on experience with gardening thanks to a $29,000 donation from the Cherokee Nation.

Funds from the tribe were allocated for an outdoor garden with seven raised beds and a greenhouse on the Muskogee school’s campus. Art students painted the raised beds in honor of the seven clans of Cherokee society, and the planting of flowers, herbs and vegetables began in October.

“For our students, this is making a huge impact since we have kids who live in the city and have never gardened before,” said Jarrod Adair, an Indian education interventionist at Alice Robertson Junior High School. “Some kids just like digging in the dirt. Some want to do the business end of it and are eager to get involved and take their produce to the farmers market and sell it. To become young entrepreneurs just from a greenhouse and a gift that was given by the Cherokee Nation is very impactful since it gives students dreams and visions that they can do this at home if they want.”

Seventh- and eighth-grade science students, as well as those in the after-school program, are using the outdoor garden and greenhouse to learn horticulture and ecology, among other studies.

“Outdoor gardening opportunities created by this Cherokee Nation gift will provide Alice Robertson students a chance to put much of what they learn in the classroom to the test in one hands-on environment,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This investment is beneficial for the tribe and the school, and I’m convinced the Cherokee Nation will be seeing the positive results of the project for years to come.”

School leaders from Muskogee Public Schools and students from Alice Robertson Junior High School met with Hoskin and Tribal Councilor Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, to tour the outdoor garden recently.

“By ensuring students at Alice Robertson have access to an outdoor garden and greenhouse, Cherokee Nation is helping promote healthy eating habits while also introducing students to the scientific and business side of food,” said Tribal Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson. “These lessons will have lasting impacts on the students and the lives they experience outside of the educational setting.”

Former Tribal Councilor Don Garvin, of Muskogee, was a longtime educator at Alice Robertson Junior High School ¬and selected the school to receive the Cherokee Nation funding during his time on the Tribal Council.