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OHM BOCES Conservation Students Play Integral Role in Maintaining BOCES Campus

Conservation students alongside their landscaping project

The goal of the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES Career and Technical Education center is to help high school juniors and seniors prepare for adulthood by focusing their studies on specialized classes. Through the Conversation program, students acquire the skills and knowledge required for success in many conservation-related careers. In addition to what they’re taught in the classroom by Conservation teacher Mr. Lacelle, senior students have recently been given a unique, hands-on opportunity to make a difference throughout the BOCES campus.

Working alongside Director of Facilities Mike Colangelo, the students recently completed a large-scale landscaping project. Presented with the challenge of deer-ravaged shrubs, they used large rocks from around campus as a raised bed for new plants. The bed was then filled with compost, created over the years by Conversation students, and landscaping fabric to deter weeds. With a budget supplied by the OHM BOCES Facilities Department, several deer-resistant shrubs and grasses were purchased locally from GreenScapes Garden Center & Landscape Co. in Marcy. After about a month of efforts, the students successfully adorned the exterior of the BOCES Support Services Center with a beautiful landscape, complete with mulch and reseeded lawn.

Students were exposed to all stages of the project; responsible for the design, planning and implementation of the finished product. Their knowledge was reflected through their teamwork and decision-making, while experience was gained through their execution and successful completion of the challenge.

Born from a request for assistance from Colangelo, this collaborative opportunity has been a way for senior students in the Conservation program to fulfill work-based learning hours relevant to their field of interest as well as leave a lasting mark on the BOCES campus.

“I am very happy with the final outcome,” said Lacelle. “I’m proud of the students' hard work and dedication.”

Nearing completion as temperatures begin to drop, additional student-involved projects include maintenance of existing garden beds and campus signage, culvert pipe installation, fall gardening and mowing, and road repairs.

Needless to say – these hard-working senior students are all but guaranteed to leave the OHM BOCES with the skills, experience and confidence needed to enter and thrive in today’s expansive conservation field.