When it came to her senior project, for Yosemite High School student Helena Johnson-Lusk, it was indeed a family affair.
She and her small crew - stepfather Lloyd, mother Anita, and younger sister Carina - got to work renovating the 50-by-20 foot greenhouse located on the school’s ag farm, a greenhouse that had been neglected, and had sat unused and untouched for six years.
They cleaned out years of trash, pulled weeds, resealed the rectangular slatted wooden tables, replaced the slats in tables that were nothing more than rotting wood within narrow metal frames, and redid the irrigation system.
Along with the physical labor, Johnson-Lusk spent many hours researching how to operate a greenhouse, and how to run the evaporative cooler to create “a huge swamp cooler-like, hot and humid” environment.
Johnson-Lusk has short and long-term hopes for the greenhouse, which is once again operable and will soon house all types of flowers and vegetables.
“I hope this teaches future students what it takes to run a greenhouse - water, electricity, maintenance, and most importantly commitment - and how to actually grow plants,” she said. “And I hope this will eventually benefit the community, that there will be plant sales, and vegetables sold at our area farmer’s markets ... that this will get our name out there to help this program grow and thrive.”
Johnson-Lusk moved to the Mountain Area from Los Angeles in her sophomore year. As a junior, she took her first ag class from then first-year YHS ag teacher Jordana Shandor.
“When Helena joined ag, she really took off,” Shandor said. “I’m proud of all the hard work she’s put into a project that will benefit future FFA students.”
Shandor will utilize the greenhouse for the new Ornamental Horticulture program she began during the current school year.
It was because of ag that Johnson-Lusk discovered her passion, and what direction she wanted to take following high school graduation. She plans on studying animal science at Fresno State, with the eventual goal of becoming an agriculture teacher.
She expressed her gratitude to Yosemite Lumber, which donated the materials needed to renovate the greenhouse, and in keeping with the ag vernacular, she added with a sweeping smile, “I’m ready to fly the coop.”