Horticulture Teaches More than Just How to Care for Plants

Since 1999, Ann Curcio, a vocational specialist with the Bridgeport Board of Education, has changed lives through her work with the most challenged special-needs students in the city's school system. Bernadine Venditto, president of Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut, shared this story of how Ann has recognized the dire need for a job skills training program for these students, and how she has embarked on a 15-year collaboration with the JA Job Shadow program.During those 15 years, more than 1,300 students with learning challenges have been able to develop needed skills to enter the workforce upon graduation from high school. Junior Achievement is uniquely positioned to help close the workforce skills gap and to equip students with the skills they need to be career-ready.[The Roaring Lions Enterprises Achievers hard at work in the Pivot greenhouse, readying their products for sale.] <http://juniorachievementusa.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/ja-of-western-connecticut2.jpg>The Roaring Lions Enterprises Achievers hard at work in the Pivot greenhouse, readying their products for sale.For the past three years, Ann has worked alongside Dennis Oliphant, Greenhouse Manager of Pivot Ministries in Bridgeport, Conn., to provide hands-on skills in horticulture and gardening. By adapting the traditional JA Company Program to meet the skill levels of the students, this adviser team has guided the Roaring Lions Enterprises JA company through the formation, management, and conclusion of three successful company cycles. The happiest part for the students was the dividend payout at the end of the year!Through hands-on experiences like growing their own plants and selling them to customers like they did at their Mother?s Day/Spring plant sale, these high school students are receiving relevant, hands-on experiences so they can own their economic success and plan for their futures. [Ms. Curcio and several Achievers working at their Mother?s Day/Spring plant sale, May 10, 2013, at Bassick High School in Bridgeport, CT. ] <http://juniorachievementusa.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/ja-of-western-connecticut3.jpg>Ms. Curcio and several Achievers working at their Mother?s Day/Spring plant sale, May 10, 2013, at Bassick High School in Bridgeport, CT.

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