Groundbreaking held for Jeff Hicken Horticultural Learning Center at Sauk Prairie High School

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. — Work will soon be underway on a new agriculture education facility at Sauk Prairie High School.

School officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon for the Jeff Hicken Horticultural Learning Center.

The new learning center, named after former agriculture teacher Jeff Hicken who died last year, will replace a greenhouse built on the other side of the school more than 15 years ago, B.J. Chrisler, the project’s fundraising chair, said.

Construction will officially begin next month, and the goal is to have the facility up and running in the spring.

Troy Talford, an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at the school, said the new facility will be easier for students to get to from the current agriculture classroom and will have more room for projects.

“One of our goals was we wanted to make the space more accessible to student projects when we’re working in the space because in our current space we were bumping into each other, moving things out of the way just to get around in the facility itself,” he said.

The new facility will be more than a greenhouse, he added; it will essentially serve as a whole new classroom. It will also allow students to experiment with things like lighting conditions thanks to adjustable LED lights inside.

Talford said he hopes the expanded facility will also help students do more with the school’s farm-to-table initiative and do some food crop production inside. In the current facility, most of what students grow are bedding plants like flowers and landscaping plants; with the new facility, he envisions space to grow vegetables and even poinsettias in the fall.