HISD agriculture specialist teaches students how to grow food

Agriculture Specialist Kierra Goosby spends much of her day outside, surveying and preparing school gardens for students to grow vegetables from seed to harvest. 

Goosby’s passion for nutrition education began when she was teaching her family about healthy eating practices. Now, she shares with students what she’s learned over the years. 

“It’s hard to explain in words the level of excitement they feel about planting seeds or watching them sprout,” Goosby said. “They’re excited about each step of the process. It’s very rewarding.” 

Goosby is part of a new student garden pilot program launched in October. Participating students at Bastian Elementary School, Attucks Middle School, and Worthing High School are learning the importance of food literacy and living a healthy lifestyle. 

“When we were transplanting cabbages at Bastian, one of our more opinionated students said he felt like a farmer,” Goosby said. “He gained a sense of satisfaction and contentment.” 

Goosby also leads an after-school garden club at Nathaniel Q. Henderson Elementary School. Last month, the radishes were ready for harvest. A few of the students had never eaten a radish before, so Goosby broke some pieces off for them to taste. 

“It was engaging to see how excited they were to try it for the first time,” Goosby said. “It was a new experience, and it helped them understand that there are other foods outside of the typical range of vegetables, like carrots and celery.” 

During her free time, Goosby volunteers at farms around the city and is working on a project management certification. 

“Once I complete it, I will be able to more effectively communicate project and implementation timelines and resources needed, and to better explain to schools what it is that we do and why,” Goosby said. 

Nutrition Services Food Literacy and Inclusion Director Tesha Williams said she appreciates Goosby’s enthusiasm for garden education. 

“Although she is new to the program, she works hard and is committed to assisting the FLI department in developing a comprehensive concept of food,” Williams said. “I look forward to her demonstrating more of her skills in the future.” 

Goosby said her parents influenced her by having an expectation that she would go to college and by teaching her perseverance, consistency, and dedication. 

“My goal is to encourage others and have an impact on how the next generation perceives food,” Goosby said.