In Clay County, West Virginia, H.E. White Elementary School’s student-lead high tunnel is nothing short of an example of entrepreneurship education. Afterschool program coordinator Dustin Vaughan has supervised these children of all ages and grade levels in an effort to create a community in which the students can build, grow and soon sell their vegetables. WVU has graciously provided these students with the high tunnel, which allows them to see community involvement and what can grow from giving.
Students from Clay County High School built the beds and tables that are in the high tunnel and the shed that they store their equipment. Vegetables range from kale, radishes, romaine lettuce, and snap peas all of which students choose from a seed catalog in the spring. After the students harvest their vegetables, they bring them inside to have them cooked for school lunches, afterschool programs and for Clay County High School. Several afterschool students such as; Connor Burdette, Jackson Cliver, Caitlyn Boggs, Billy Townsend and Mason Hall, take time afterschool to come together and discuss what it means to work in the high tunnel and what entrepreneurship means to them.
This initiative not only gives the students personal ownership but also shows them what it takes to be a young entrepreneur. The flood that happened in June 2016 completely damaged their work inside the high tunnel. Although the high tunnel remained, the work the students had done, and their supplies were gone. The students had to start from scratch and replant their vegetables, teaching them how to rebuild and regroup as many entrepreneurs do.
What Dustin Vaughan and others at the school have instilled in these students is more than growing vegetables, it is teaching the kids about production, management, working as a team and supply and demand. HE White Elementary school doesn’t just teach by the books, they give their students the tools and opportunities to think like young entrepreneurs.