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Prospect Elementary's garden blooms into a first-place award

Amy Burns, occupational therapist at Prospect Elementary School, presents a first-place award for the school’s garden to Principal Jason Douglas. Looking on is Karyl Price, who accepted the award on behalf of Burns in July when Burns was out of town.

      A flower and vegetable garden that supplements learning at Prospect Elementary School was a first-place winner this summer in Mansfield’s Seventh Annual Take Pride Earth Stewardship Contest.

      Amy Burns, a Prospect occupational therapist who conceived the garden idea, presented a trophy to Prospect Principal Jason Douglas on Thursday. The trophy recognizes Prospect’s success in the schools division of the contest.

      Awards were presented in July during a program in Mansfield’s Central Park.

      Burns said the garden was designed to be a learning tool at Prospect.

      “After butterflies hatched in the kindergarten classrooms of Monica Hoovler and Sarah Uszak the children released them at the garden,” she said. “And on field day this spring we had groups of students who planted and worked in the garden.”

      As Burns tended the green beans, tomatoes and flowers in the garden over the summer, she sometimes got unsolicited help.

      “Kids in the community would come by, notice what I was doing and ask, ‘Can we help?’” she said.

      Exactly who is responsible for the garden’s success depends upon who you ask.

      Burns points to former Richland Public Health employee Karyl Price, now a healthy life coach at the Mansfield Area YMCA. While at the health department, Burns said, Price provided the support that got the garden started.

      "The garden wouldn’t be there without her,” Burns said. 

      Price said it’s Burns who deserves the credit.

      “Amy has poured her heart into this garden,” Price said. “Gardens always struggle. They require time and attention.”

      In a statement announcing July’s awards program, the Earth Stewardship Steering Committee said, “The community is invited to join us in this celebration to recognize the culmination of the many projects completed through the months of April, May and June, and those who have given of their time, money and energy to make Mansfield/Richland County a more beautiful place to work and live.”

      Members of the steering committee include the City of Mansfield, Downtown Mansfield Inc., Friends of Mansfield Parks, Mansfield in Bloom, MOMS Clean Air Force, North End Community Improvement Cooperative, OSU Extension, Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Richland County Development Group, Richland County Regional Sold Waste Management Authority, Richland Public Health and the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District.

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