Mother Nature didn't cooperate but that didn't dampen the spirits of those attending the Christening today of the new Faribault Bethlehem Academy Greenhouse.  A brief ceremony was held in Van Orsow Auditorium with many of the contributors to the project in attendance.

Bethlehem Academy President/Principal Mindy Reeder started the program by thanking them for their contributions, "I'm honored to partner with all the amazing people here at BA and with all of you and all of your support for the projects that we're doing to support our students."

Reeder stated, "Our mission is to really empower our school family to seek excellence in their spiritual and academic life.  So we hope that's what we're inspiring with the students as they're with us from 6th grade to 12th grade and you as partners with us truly do inspire our mission.  Because you come together to really support the students and the staff and the goals that we have as we add programming to Bethlehem Academy."

She added, "I want to thank you personally for your contributions to our greenhouse.  I can't wait until we have something growing inside so we can celebrate that and celebrate some of the new programs that we can offer with the greenhouse.  I want to thank you."

Reeder introduced BA Board of Directors member and Ag Committee Chair Pat DeGrood.  Degrood thanked everyone for their contributions to the project saying, "That's what made this project a success.  It's the investment that all of you made into the BA community and into the Faribault community.  Hopefully we can continue to (see) this project to grow as an ag program and the greenhouse was the next step that we needed for the plants and soil science team"

DeGrood went down the list of contributors for the greenhouse project.

  • Ag Partners Co-op partnered with Land O' Lakes to provide a grant.
  • Community Co-Op Oil Association of Faribault partnered with CHS.
  • Jack Schwab , BA Ag Advisory Committee member
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred Mike and Nick O'Connor from Agri O'Connor assisted with a Pioneer grant.
  • Prairie Farms assisted with a financial donation.
  • Ben Koziolek, BA graduate worked on fencing and provided a in-kind donation.
  • Mike Donkers and Jake Bice with Met-Con worked.  They did the footings and did a partnership with Cemstone to help out with concrete.
  • Brian Bauer of Bauer Plumbing and Heating assisted with sewer, water and gas hookup.
  • Slinger Electric is working on the electrical portion.
  • Deb Korman of Korman Law
  • Compeer Financial provided some grants

Degrood also recognized Richard Nystuen who assisted by teaching in the Ag Department last year. "This program really, the idea really started back with Mr. Berent Halvorson and our ag community working towards what's it going to take to grow our ag program?  I went out to all of you guys basically.  I asked for all of your help on this project so it's really all of you guys sitting here that took the time to come today that made this happen."

"I'd like to take this time to thank all of you for all the work you've done for us.  Mr. Zabel our head of maintenance has been working tirelessly on this project from the word go.  Now we have a new ag teacher.  I'd like to introduce to all of you Ms. Cassi Story."

Story commented she did reside in Faribault previously and currently lives on her family farm in the Kenyon area.  "I've got that personal connection to agriculture and farming and have been teaching, this will be my 6th year of teaching agriculture and within the first week and a half I have continued to have my passion fueled for the awesome opportunities that agriculture can bring to youth.  The students at BA are amazing, super awesome to work with, I am very grateful to be riding in on the backs of all the hard work that was done before me."

Story added, "The greenhouse I think is going to be such an amazing piece to this school's ag program.  You guys have kind of built the cadillac of greenhouses so I really hope that I can build it to be absolutely everything that it can be.  I think that the student body buy in is going to totally be there.  I know our class numbers are a little bit small at this point but it's a program that's just getting started so the fact that we do have the numbers that we have is a really positive thing.  I think once we do get out to the greenhouse and get things growing kids are going to see that and be excited about it.  You'd be surprised at the interest you can get from that student that you would think a greenhouse isn't going to be something that they're passionate about and they'll be the ones that ask to go out to the greenhouse the most."

A couple of BA students spoke.  Sophomore Karlie DeGrood is part of the plant science class.  She took the first ag class last year and said, "I'm super, super excited for the greenhouse this year.  We have already started harvesting the seeds to get them to germinate inside the greenhouse.  I do have an ag background but in our class we have a couple students who are new to the agriculture field and I'm super, super excited to get them more involved."

Senior J.J. Malecha told those gathered, "I'm also part of the plant science class.  This is my first year really in an agricultural class although I live on a hobby farm and work with my uncles.  See that there was a greenhouse being built I figured since this is my senior year I should take the opportunity try something new.  Something I've never done before.  That opportunity was made possible thanks to all of you guys and I'm very thankful for that.  I'm looking forward to having a great year."

All those in attendance then went outside, opened their umbrellas and witnessed a Priest bless the new greenhouse.