The Advanced Plant and Soil Classes at Brownwood High School are preparing to complete a research project along with Tarleton State University in the greenhouse located on the Brownwood High School campus.

Mitzi Cockerham, BHS Ag Science Teacher, was contacted by Horticulture Professor and Horticulture Center Manager, Manon Shockey, to participate with TSU.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to be involved in research as well as learning about exotic insects that would be found in a greenhouse,” Cockerham stated. According to Shockey, “Tarleton received a grant from the USDA APHIS division (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) to monitor for certain exotic pests in north Texas. Monitoring for exotic pests is a critical part of plant protection because the time for control is before the pest population explodes. We also wanted to add in the educational component because the students of today are the stewards of tomorrow. During the trapping portion of the study we will be setting traps at the schools and also at an area nursery to see if there is a difference in populations due to the strict regulations placed on schools concerning chemicals and pest treatments.”

Tarleton Graduate Assistant, Kristen Moore, has been in Cockerham's classroom to introduce the students to the exotic insects they will be looking to find. Shockey and Moore will be back on the BHS campus March 1, to set the traps for the insects.

“I think it [the research project] is beneficial to both Brownwood High School and college students,” said BHS student, CoJo Guidry. “I feel it’s beneficial because our plants are important to us due to the plant sale at the end of the year. It is also beneficial to the college students because they learn to trap and identify the bugs too.”

Cockerham also stated that the identification of pests also helps when growing plants. These pests can affect the quality of plants the student will be able to offer the public at the annual plant sale. “When the students learn plant production they have to understand all aspects of plant production including insects and pests,” explained Cockerham. “I think this is an awesome joint effort between Brownwood High School and Tarleton State University.”