Friday, May 1, 2009

High school kids: working and proud of it

I recently hit a plant sale at my local high school where they were selling a wide variety of veggie starts to promote and help fund the on site vocational horticulture program. All the seedlings were grown on the high school property in a green house by students.

This sale was the cool weather veggies; lettuce, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, etc. In another few weeks, the hot weather veggie sale will happen.

It was hotter than blazes in the green house but I was really inspired to see the kids so enthusiastically working at the sale. There was a line of them potting up seedlings and getting flats ready decked out in summer clothes. The more gregarious ones were helping customers, counting up orders (and doing the math in their heads!) and asking if I needed help carrying my starts to the car.

They were trying out some suggested selling techniques on me and guess what? They worked! I ended up walking out of there with a whole flat including some stuff I am not sure I wanted or know what to do with! But, it was for an excellent cause, the starts were cheap and it was so entertaining to see the kids hustle.

I was reminded of the energy and focus a young person can have when they are doing something they find valuable. They all seemed proud of their accomplishments and saw real value when money was changing hands for their hard work. Eyes lit up as cash accumulated and someone with an excited tone of voice was keeping a running tally of the "take" for the day.

How many life lessons were rolled into this one lesson? Answer: lots.

I have always been a huge proponent of vocational education and this horticulture program at our high school is exactly right for right now. Not only do they really help out a cash strapped school to keep the grounds up. But, they are being taught to be self sufficient and grow their own food. I can't think of a better timing than right now.

Vocational training is just that; vocational. Like, being able to get a job. Is these rocky economic times I would hope we as a nation could devote more energy and focus to vocational training. Not all kids are meant or ever will be able to afford college. There is no shame in having practical knowledge like being able to build something or being able to grow food. In fact, these are some of the few jobs that can never, ever be outsourced.

And the kids get it. We parents may hope for stellar college tracks for our little dears but some of these kids have seen just how that didn't always turn out as planned. Knowing how to do something practical is looking pretty appealing right now.

I was very proud of them. I can only imagine how proud their parents were. I will definitely be back for some tomatoes, peppers, squash and another healthy dose of enthusiastic youth.

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