Benton STEM Elementary Opens New Garden

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COLUMBIA - Benton STEM Elementary opened the Elaine Kent Garden Friday morning.

The garden was named after a former teacher who served eighteen years as a teacher at the school. The Verizon Foundation donated a $12,000 grant to help fund the project. Other local companies such as the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, the Columbia Career Center, and the Columbia South Rotary Club donated other supplies for the garden. The garden includes greenhouses built near the garden so that students can continue learning year round.

The school also held a STEM showcase Friday, which included local professionals and students from the University of Missouri speaking with the students about their jobs.

The fact that Benton is a STEM school means that it is focused on teaching children about science, technology, engineering, and math. The school's Principal Dr. Troy S. Hogg said the STEM program is aimed to enhance the student's thinking and problem solving skills.

"Its really important for us to prepare our students for those positions that aren't even out there yet. You know, those jobs that are down the road that are going to be coming still," Hogg said. 

Other companies and organizations to contribute to the garden included: Columbia Outdoor Classroom, United Parcel Service, Bluebird Composting, Midwest Block and Brick, Boone County Lumber and Columbia Public Schools.