Delta State’s Dr. Katherine Davis (at right) and Dr. Cam McMillen take the cucumbers and okra grown by the DSU Child Development Center children through the pickling process in the Ada Swindle Mitchell Foods Laboratory.
Delta State University recently embarked on a new yearly theme: “Year of Partnerships,” and the College of Education has a partnership experience to share.
The Division of Family and Consumer Sciences (F&CS), chaired by Dr. Jan Haynes, has shown how creative partnerships can benefit the university and the community. Joint planning between faculty in the Delta State Nutrition/Dietetics and Child Development Programs within F&CS has resulted in an extended learning opportunity for children in the Child Development Center, practical experiences for nutrition and dietetics students, and increased communication with the community and alumni.
Delta State Assistant Professor of F&CS Dr. Katherine Davis and Director of the Child Development Center Leigh-Anne Gant wanted to develop a children’s garden in order to help children understand where food really comes from, and encourage them to try new vegetables. The children were actively involved in the development of the garden, planting the seeds, watering and weeding on a weekly basis. Art and science lessons in the classroom were also used to strengthen the children’s gardening experience.
Throughout the experience, Delta State students from child development and nutrition/dietetics were afforded opportunities to apply skills and knowledge learned in their classes to a practical setting. Dr. Cam McMillen, assistant professor of F&CS and Draughon McPherson, adjunct instructor of F&CS, assisted with producing the finished product: 22 jars of sweet pickles and 20 jars of pickled okra. The Ada Swindle Mitchell Foods Laboratory, made possible by a generous donation from the Viking Range Corporation, was utilized for the canning stage of the project.
Over the past four months, the 3 and 4-year old classes gained experience as they watched their seeds grow into plants. One of the main attractions was the growth of several watermelons, now about soccer ball size. Throughout the entire process, from start to finish, the children maintained interest and excitement in the total garden experience.
During the next phase of the project, children in the Child Development Center will deliver jars of freshly pickled okra to College of Education alumni in recognition of the many valued partnerships and friendships they represent across Delta State University and the College of Education.