Ozarks Technical Community College’s Early Childhood Education Center was awarded a $2,000 grant to participate in the Missouri Farm to Preschool Pilot Project through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The project goal is to strengthen the connection between children and healthy, local foods.
The Early Childhood Education Center will collaborate with the college’s agriculture program to build four raised garden beds at the center to increase the preschoolers’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Instructors will also receive technical assistance, curriculum and other resources developed by the Department of Health to promote food and environmental literacy.
The OTC Early Childhood Education Center was one of only six grant awardees in the state.
“This grant will allow our preschoolers to grow fruits and vegetables in their own classroom gardens and take field trips to local farms,” said Jennifer Crouch, Early Childhood Education Center manager. “Exposing young children to healthy foods early in life has the potential to reduce childhood obesity and positively impact long-term health.”
The OTC Early Childhood Education Center provides children ages 2-5 with engaging and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities in a safe, secure and nurturing atmosphere. The center serves OTC students, faculty and staff as well as the Springfield community. It also functions as a training facility for college students in OTC’s Early Childhood Development program. These students receive hands-on training in the center working side-by-side with experienced teachers who have extensive backgrounds in childhood education and development.
For more information about the Early Childhood Education Center, visit otc.edu/earlychildhoodcenter.