Dream Diné Charter School students learn about farming
SHIPROCK — Eight-year-old Kiyrinzo Deel carefully moved his green plastic watering can between the corn stalks planted by the Northern Diné Youth Committee.
Deel was one of 31 students from the Dream Diné Charter School who visited the two-acre farm on Wednesday as part of the school's experiential days.
"I love watering corn," Deel said. "They need water. It helps them."
Rachel Brown, the first and second grade teacher, said the school organizes these types of trips because it enhances the lessons they learn in class as well as teaching them about the community.
On one of the first experiential education days, the students learned about the youth committee's efforts to develop Nizhoni Park in Shiprock.
"We explained to the kids how community services works. In order for that to happen, you need a group of young ones that are here, that are great examples of that," Brown said.
For this week's outing, students learned about how to harvest, the importance of water, art and team building. They spent about 20 minutes in each session.
While participating in the session focusing on harvest, students learned how to pick beans, corn, pumpkins and squash.
Before walking into rows of corn, students were given instructions about how to identify which ears are ready to be picked. They also picked Anasazi beans.
Waylon Perez held 28 pods of beans in both hands then said he was going to open the pods at home.
"They look like turquoise," he said about the bean's speckled skin after one of the pods accidentally opened.
When asked about what he learned during the visit, Perez, 8, said he learned about water and how it is beneficial to plants.
Aria Lonas, 7, summarized her visit in one word, "Good."
During the session about the importance of water, students were asked about the Gold King Mine spill, which released more than 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater, and its impact on the San Juan River.
They also learned that the youth committee members installed a drip irrigation system and hauled clean water in order to keep the farm operating after the spill.
Following the discussion, each student received a green plastic watering can to give water to the corn growing on the south side of the field.
"It is OK if you get wet. It is only water, it'll dry," youth committee member Graham Biyáál said.
Consuela Benally has a daughter attending the school and is an AmeriCorps VISTA member.
Benally said she appreciated the trip because it helps the students understand how produce is grown.
"We want to continue these experiential days throughout the school year," she said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.