Dayna Stump – FACS Educator Huntington North High School – Huntington, Indiana

It was only a few short months ago that a post came across Facebook that made Renee and I stop in our tracks.   Knowing my love of all things related to school gardens, Renee had already tagged me in the comments before I could even delve into the post.  The post in question, showed a thriving school garden, located in a campus courtyard and described the collaborative efforts of the FACS department that had put it all together.   As I read through the post, the details got even better… not only was this beautiful garden producing lovely veggies, this project doubled as an outdoor classroom and all aspects of its maintenance were being incorporated in to FACS curriculum…. Swoon….!

With all of this in mind, I had to know more!  We quickly reached out to the teacher who had shared this post – Dayna Stump and asked for an interview.  She graciously accepted and filled us in on how this project came to fruition… please continue reading below for our interview transcripts….

Please introduce yourself and your colleagues

My name is Dayna Stump I teach FACS and I am also the Chairperson for the FACS Department at Huntington North High School in Huntington, Indiana.

My name is Jan Hildebrand,  I am a FACS teacher at Huntington North High School.  

My name is Stephanie Wiley and I am a FACS teacher at Huntington North High School.

Mandy Grimm  

How long have you been teaching and what classes are you currently teaching?

  • (Dayna Stump) This is my 22nd year at HNHS and my 27th year as a FACS teacher.  I have taught almost all of the courses offered in our department with only a couple of exceptions.  Currently I teach two half-day dual credit courses in the morning;  Early Childhood Education, and Education Professions (Cadet Teaching).  I also teach two sections of Interpersonal Relationships in the afternoon.
  • (Jan Hildebrand) This is my 4th year teaching at HNHS and my 6th year as a FACS teacher.  Previously I spent 4 years as the JAG Specialist at HNHS and 27 years in Workforce Development.  Currently I am teaching Child Development, Advanced Child Development, Nutrition & Wellness for Special Needs Students and Human & Social Services for dual credit.
  • (Stephanie Wiley) This is my 4th year at Huntington North and my 6th year overall.  I am currently teaching Preparing for College and Careers, Nutrition and Wellness, Advanced Nutrition and Wellness and Human Development.

Tell us a bit about your school?  Location, Middle or High School etc…

  • (DS)  Huntington North High School is a 4 year public high school for grades 9-12.  Our facility is located in a rural community in the north-east  part of Indiana.  We are on a 7 period day, two semester schedule.   We are the only high school in the county and have a current enrollment of approximately 1600 students.  We offer more than 250 courses, organizations and activities for our students.  Along with all required core subjects, we offer extensive courses in Art, Music, Business, Physical Education, World Languages (offering Spanish, French, German, and Chinese), Industrial Technology and Family and Consumer Sciences.  We offer numerous A. P. courses and Dual Credit courses for our students.  We currently have a graduation rate of over 95% (nope, that’s not an error!!).  We have three full time and 1 part time FACS teacher in the department and currently offer: Nutrition and Wellness, Advanced Nutrition and Wellness, Child Development, Advanced Child Development, Human Development, Interpersonal Relationships, and Preparing for College and Careers (a required course for all freshman).  We also offer Personal Financial Responsibility, Adult Roles and Responsibility, and Preparing for College and Careers as on-line courses.  We offer three dual credit programs through our FACS Department:  Early Childhood Education, Education Professions, and Human and Social Services.  All three of these programs are ½ day programs for our junior and senior students who meet specific requirements and eligibility.   

How did this project begin?

  • (DS) Our building was established and built in 1969.  The original academic part of the building, which is laid out like a grid, has four large courtyards in each corner.   Each courtyard is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows which run the full length of each of the four hallways adjacent to it. Our FACS hallway faces one of those courtyards, which had long been neglected and was unsightly.  As we (the FACS teachers) would stand in the hall for supervision in the mornings and between classes, we often discussed our desire for a more attractive view.  We saw a great deal of potential for the ugly space, and dreamed about the possibilities to make the courtyard more attractive and useful. We talked about all of the things we wished we could do with it to make it beneficial and a useful part of our school.  Our conversations usually started with “wouldn’t it be cool if………”
  • (DS) A grant opportunity presented itself and we applied for it based on our ability to use this space.

Did this project begin with the FACS department?

  • (DS)  Yes it did.  When we realized we were going to actually going to try to do something instead of just talking about it, we brainstormed lots of ideas.  I measured the space and the planters in the space and mapped out a space plan on graph paper.  As we began looking at the space and how to best use it for our classes, we came up with a general long-range plan. We prioritized and divided the plan into 4 phases to be completed over several years time.  This was outlined in a grant proposal we submitted to CF Industries and were given $500 to get the project started.  
  • (DS)  Although it began with our department, we have been able to bring several departments together to be part of the project


How long has this project been in the works? from conception to now?

  • (DS) We (the three FACS teachers) began talking about the project early last school year.  I spoke with our building Principal about our idea and he was very receptive to our idea and encouraged us to “go for it”.  We applied for the grant by the September 26th deadline, received the grant a few months later, then began work on the project right away prioritizing our overall goal and deciding how that $500 should be spent.  
  • (DS)  Our building/land maintenance crew began removing the old bushes and helped us prepare the space.
  • (DS)  In early spring  (when the weather got a little nicer) we spent several nights after school pulling weeds and preparing the beds to be planted.

Tell us about the grant you received from CF Industries and the donations from local orchards?  

  • (DS)  The CF Industries grant was for incorporating agriculture and/or the environment into the classroom.
  • (DS)  We also recently received a EcoLab grant in the amount of $1,500 to continue with the next phases of the project.  The EcoLab grant was through the Visions For Learning Foundation with a focus on four areas:  Youth and Education, Community Development, Environment and Conservation (hands-on environmental learning programs),and Arts and Culture.  
  • (DS)  We called a nearby nursery to inquire about a specialty apple they sold (Russet Apples).   McClure’s Nursery and Winery in Peru, Indiana was very excited when we told them about our project and owner, Jason McClure, offered to come speak to our classes and teach the students about how to his business, grafting and maintaining fruit trees, transplanting fruit and vegetable plant starts, etc.  He has grafted some specialty dwarf apple trees that we will be planting soon this fall in our larger center planters.  He also donated some asparagus, seedless blackberry bushes, and rhubarb, which were planted last spring and will yield fruit next spring.


We love hearing about the cooperative efforts of the many departments involved – specifically you mentioned  (AG, Industrial Tech dept)  can you tell us more about how that came about?

  • (DS) . Our Physical Education department teachers allowed the “weights” class students to help us with hauling dirt into the space to get the beds ready to plant.  
  • (DS)  Most of our plants were from donated from our Agriculture Department greenhouse.  Our Landscape/Horticulture class students started those plants from seed last winter.
  • (DS)  Our Industrial Tech. students and instructor used free pallets from the loading dock to build our compost box.
  • (DS)  Our art teacher donated several of our “heirloom” tomato plants and we had an art student label our plant stakes to identify all of the plants as they started to sprout from the dirt.
  • (DS)  Our Food Service Department saves food scraps they generate from breakfast and lunch preparation to put into our compost box.
  • (JH) Our football coach donated a football uniform including helmet for our Viking garden scarecrow.
  • (DS)  Custodial staff assisted with clearing and removing trees and debris.

Your courtyard looks fantastic and it appears to be producing plenty of veggies, how is the garden maintained through the summer?

  • (DS)  Before the end of the school year, we created a rotation schedule on a calendar. Each of us (the three FACS teachers) committed to take a turn once a week to come into school to  water and weed the garden.  Fortunately we had a very rainy summer and not an extremely hot and dry summer.  Because we live in the heart of the Midwest, you never know what summer will be like in Indiana.  Two of us live at least 30 minutes away (I live about 35-45 minutes away) so Jan Hildebrand (the one FACS teacher who lives locally and only 5 minutes away) generously and willingly took it upon herself to come in more frequently to both assess and water the garden.  Once school started at the beginning of August, we have obviously been here daily to check it and water it as needed.  This August has been unseasonably dry, so we have had to water quite frequently.   Our students have been able to help with that responsibility now that we are back in school.


We were very inspired to hear you plan on using scraps from your food lab to compost into the garden, will you be teaching students how to compost as well?

  • (DS)  Yes.  As part of their curriculum, the students will be learning about the importance and value of composting–what you can and should put in the composter and what may not be used for composing.
  • (DS)  When our foods classes begin to cook we will be using scraps from their labs to add to the compost box.  In the meantime, we spoke to our foods service manager and are working with our food service workers to get coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit/vegetable scraps, etc. to add to the compost box.  Typically our Foods classes have 2 labs each week to reinforce what they have been studying in class.  

Can you tell us how this project will affect your curriculum?  For instance, will you be addressing the topics of sustainability and the economic/health benefits of local food production.

  • (DS)  We already do address those topics in several of our courses as part of our state standards.  Our Nutrition and Wellness, Advanced Nutrition and Wellness, and Human Development courses all have state standards that address those topics and are a part of our course curriculum.  As we teach the state standards covering  prenatal nutrition, and nutrition for the developing child in Child Development, Advanced Child Development, Early Childhood Education, and Education Professions, these topics are also included along with meal and snack time planning and preparation.  Including the students in the study of the Farm to Fork concept will be an interesting and integral part of our teaching now because it is real life and hands on.  

Are you able to use the produce grown in the courtyard in your food labs?

  • (DS)  Yes, that is the whole point of the project and sole intention for the courtyard produce.  
  • (DS)  We have a food dehydrator and have been drying herbs and freezing vegetables on a regular basis for the past few weeks and have quite a stockpile of frozen zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers and Jalapeno peppers.  We have a large supply of dried parsley and basil, and will soon have chives, and oregano.  We will also have acorn squash, butternut squash and eggplant ready to harvest.  We have pumpkins and other squash on the vines; and potatoes, red onion, yellow onion, and garlic continuing to grow.

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Where does the produce harvested during the summer go?

  • (DS) Into our freezer.  Herbs were also dried and stored.

We were also very inspired to read of this space being used as an outdoor classroom, can you tell us more about this?  Such as:  Which classes will have access to the outdoor classroom?  And how this space might influence their curriculum?

  • (DS) Because the courtyard is part of our building and school, everyone will have access to use it if they wish to.  For building security, if a teacher wants to take their students outside to the courtyard, they may have to come to our office to obtain the key to unlock it, but it is a community space.   It will not be reserved exclusively for FACS classes or FACS teachers, even though we are the ones who have invested the time, energy, and $$ into the renovation and use of the space.  That was never our goal or intention.  
  • (DS) . One main goal we had in mind from the beginning was just to make the space more visually appealing for the entire student body and anyone passing by the space.
  • (DS) . The students currently only have the edge of the planters to sit on (which is what the original design of the planters was intended for.  The next phase of our project will be to incorporate benches that convert into tables for collaborative work.

Farm to fork is a very inspiring topic right now what advice can you give other FACS teachers looking to start such a project?  

  • (DS) . Look at the untapped potential of the resources you have available to you.  You may not have a courtyard (and ours isn’t the best space for a gardening project anyway), but it was an untapped resource that we wanted to take advantage of.
  • (DS)  Don’t procrastinate and don’t be afraid to ask others to help you make things happen.  Begin by seeking the support of your administrative team and other departments and make them part of your project.  By making it an interdepartmental effort, more people have a vested interested in your success.  
  • (JH)  Teachers, staff and students want to participate in improvements but are not sure how.  We just asked for assistance and at no time has anyone refused to help.  In fact most people wanted to do more.  
  • (DS)  Promote it and advertise it through your local news and social media.  Let others know what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to share the excitement and success of your project.  
  • (DS) Understand it is a lot of work and requires a commitment and willingness to go the extra mile to benefit your program and, most importantly, your students.  
  • (DS)  Make sure it is student driven.  Students need to have ownership in the project and its outcome or they won’t appreciate the benefits.
  • (DS)  It has been such a positive thing for our building.  Our student body loves walking by it everyday.  We hear them talking about the produce they are watching mature each day.  It is also in a location that parents and others from our community must walk by to get from the athletic arena to the cafeteria (which is where a lot of our community events occur), so there is a lot of exposure to the garden.  On our very first teacher day, all of the faculty (from across the entire school corporation) meets in our cafeteria for breakfast then we move to the auditorium for the opening day presentations.  Every staff and faculty member had to walk by our courtyard to get from one point to another, and they all saw the courtyard and our garden.  It was AWESOME!   Their comments were all so positive and it was such a great way to start a new school year.   We have a scarecrow dressed as one of our Viking football players.  It was so cool to hear their comments and see their expressions as they passed.  Our superintendent mentioned our department and our courtyard project in his opening comments when he spoke about all of the awesome things happening in our corporation.  That…..was amazing.
  • (DS)  The faculty is constantly making comments to us about how awesome it is and how cool the project is for our kids and our school.  It has been such a great way to promote our department and get the students excited for the classes they are taking in it.


In your post you mention your school is a 1:1 wireless school – can you tell us what that means?

  • (DS) We are a 1:1 Blended Learning school and are completely wireless.  Each student has a MacBook and all teachers have iPads and MacBooks as well.  Most classrooms have Apple TV’s and some have SmartBoards.  We use Canvas as our LMS (Learning Management System).  Because we are wireless, our students will be able to take their macBooks out to the courtyard and the teacher will be able to continue to have class just as if the students were in the classrooms inside our building.  If there is a video the teacher wants the students to view, that can be embedded into Canvas and the students can view it on their Mac.
  • (DS)  Most of our students also have smartphones that can be used for various educational tasks too (if the teacher permits it).  Before anyone gets the wrong impression, No, most of our students are not from wealthy, upper or middle class families.  Just the opposite in fact.  We have a large percentage of students that meet the criteria for free and reduced lunch according to the state and federal guidelines.  Our school board and administrative team have made it their priority to prepare our students to be college and career ready and have made a huge investment in providing current technology for all of our students and faculty along with the ongoing professional development necessary to use it to it’s fullest potential.  They have made it a priority for all students to have the 21st century skills needs to be successful.
  • (DS)  BTW–our Jr high student (grades 6-8) also have MacBooks and our PreK-5th grades students all have iPads.
  • (DS)  In addition, we have a New Tech School within our school.  Each year a limited number of incoming freshmen are selected through a lottery to participate in the Viking New Tech program.  This is a project-based, technology driven program.  Several of the New Tech students enroll in our FACS courses as part of their Electives requirement for graduation.

Dayna Stump 1

** End of interview**

If you are anything like us, this story has served as an inspiration and possibly even a guide on how to get a highly functional school garden started!  A big, “Thank you” to Dayna Stump and her colleagues at Huntington North High School – we wish you continued success on your garden endeavors!

We hope you enjoyed this Teacher Showcase, if you would like to see more blogs spotlighting FACS Educators please leave a comment below!


Jill and Renee


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