Unaka High School, Lowe’s ‘dig deep’ with Carter Cares

Published 8:40 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden  Unaka agricultural teacher Josh Armentrout works with a student involved with the Carter Cares summer program.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Unaka agricultural teacher Josh Armentrout works with a student involved with the Carter Cares summer program.

With increased foot traffic in the summer, the Drop Collaborative recently had the opportunity to work with the future farmers of Carter County.
Taking a moment to enjoy the summer heat and farm landscape, more than 15 children with the Carter Cares summer program visited Unaka High School’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) located on Dry Hollow Road in Stoney Creek Wednesday.
“Pattie Meyer is the landowner,” Unaka agricultural teacher Josh Armentrout said. “But this was a dream of John Drop, who is no longer with us, but they’ve graciously donated this land for our students to work on.”
The farm features a variety of activities to participate in, including farming and raising livestock.
“It’s a great resource for the students,” Armentrout said. “We have six up-and-coming seniors that we’ll introduce to the program for the coming year.”
Unaka students and graduates collaborated with Lowe’s of Elizabethton for Wednesday’s project. The home improvement retailer donated vegetation for planting, gloves, shovels and worked in creating the raised gardening beds on the property.
“Lowe’s has been great to work with,” Armentrout said. “They donated all the tools you see here today and have been a great partner to work with.”
Once the Carter Cares students made their arrival, they were greeted with a tour of the farm and animals, including pigs and a turkey, by recent Unaka graduates Savannah Wood and Sierra Wright.
Following up the tour around the area, the children had the opportunity to get their hands dirty and work alongside members of the SAE and Lowe’s employees planting different vegetation.
“It’s great being about to do this,” Shane Case, store manager of Lowe’s, said. “This is our third project we’ve done in the county and it is something Lowe’s really stresses.”
Giving back to the community is something the store takes seriously, according to Case.
“It’s very important to give back to the community,” he said. “With us being just right up the road in Elizabethton, we receive a lot of traffic through this area.”
“The high school approached us about wanting to help and we were happy to,” Case added. “We’ve provided the different tools and vegetables that were planted.”
Lowe’s provided juice, water and other refreshments at the conclusion of the Drop Farm experience.
Armentrout talked about the importance for the students to be involved with the program, adding that students apply for the program to receive course credit.
Food raised by the students is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank and will also be provided to Carter Christian Church for distribution through its food pantry. The SAE is no slouch when it comes to providing food. In 2015, the collaboration donated 500 pounds of food and it was selected as a Best Practice in Career and Technical Education by the Tennessee Department of Education.
With generations coming together to work in the garden, it couldn’t have concluded a better morning active, Case said.
“It’s very important for kids to work outside,” he added. “You can see how much fun their having. With millennials, some haven’t learned some of activities of working on a farm so this is a great thing provided to the community.”

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