Faces in the Crowd: Lauren Poeppel

At St. Elizabeth Seton Elementary School, faculty saw a need to teach students some practical life lessons – including gardening. The 3rd grade class participated in a statewide competition.

Last year’s 3rd grade class at St. Elizabeth Seton Elementary School, learned about gardening and where their food comes from. Volunteer Master Gardeners taught the students about seeds, soil and everything in between.

Lisa Droz, Library Staff, says,  “We just kinda realized that a lot of the students aren’t really understanding the full concept of gardening, and so we got a lot of new books about gardening and just kind of threw ourselves into that gardening with the kids and they really responded well and I think it’s real beneficial.”

They reached out to Bonnie Plants, an organization that gives oversized cabbage plants to participating 3rd grade classrooms across the nation. From there, the students compete to have the ‘best cabbage’ based on appearance and size. Students were able to tie in their education with this hands-on project.

Brenda Mizenko, 4th grade teacher, says, “We studied plants in 3rd grade so it was really nice to have this at the end of the year because we had already talked about the life cycle of a plant … we looked at seeds and looked at different types of plants throughout the school year.”

Student Lauren Poeppel took her challenge seriously and with a lot of care, her cabbage grew to 24 pounds.

Lauren Poeppe, National Bonnie Plants SD State Winner, says, “We used miracle grow and this bug powder that protected it from the bugs and we watered it every single day, and we put a garbage can to protect it from hail. It was fun to like grow and see how it changed from a little plant to a big cabbage.”

Lauren was enlightened by the project – learning that having a green thumb takes patience and dedication. “I learned that you need a lot of luck to grow things, like that big.”

Some of her friends didn’t have such luck.

Gabrielle Nelson & Addison Madigan, Project Participants, say “And it was going really well until like there was some bugs and they ate it, so it died, and the same thing happened to me.”

While all participating students gave it their best shot, Lauren was a head above the rest of the class. At the end of the season, teachers from each third grade class select the student who has grown the “best” cabbage, based on size and appearance. A digital image of the cabbage and student is submitted online at www.bonnieplants.com. That student’s name is then entered in a statewide drawing. State winners are randomly selected by the office of the Commission of Agriculture, in each of 48 participating states. Lauren was named the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program’s South Dakota state winner.

Mizenko says, “Yeah, when I saw her photo, I’m like oh my goodness I think this plant/cabbage has a good shot at winning and I was just really proud of her. And it’s one of the biggest cabbages I’ve seen.”

Now that she is a novice green thumb, Lauren wants to help her mom grow other vegetables in their garden this year.

Even though Lauren is not a fan of cabbage, she gave the cabbage to her grandmother who made pans of cabbage rolls, sauerkraut and coleslaw.

Lauren received a $1,000 saving bond towards education from Bonnie Plants.

Categories: Faces in the Crowd, Local News