Farm Service Learning 

Healthy / Cultural Initiatives @ the Farm

Our school partners with La Plazita Inc., Los Jardines and Food Corp to embed programming
and nutrition that supports the health and wellness of our students. This collaboration
provides our students the opportunity to cultivate the earth, plant and harvest fresh fruits and
vegetables. By doing this we are able to

  • Feed our students fresh, healthy food
  • Provide land-based physical education through working the farm
  • Provide embedded social / emotional health learning and strategies that promote
  • Provide opportunities for our students to engage in cultural traditions that we aim to
    prevent the loss of

This collaboration is having a huge impact on our students. We are seeing positive results in
the academic and social and emotional health and well being of our students. We want to
expand this, to more students, to our parents and throughout the South Valley community.

SVP sends one class every Friday for service learning and community service at Wisdom
Garden or the Sanchez Farm, both of which are run by La Plazita Inc or at Los Jardines. The
Staff at both Los Jardines and La Plazita along with Food Corp members, SVP teacher and
SVP Social Worker support student work that supports learning in historical and cultural
traditions including acequias, land-based living, organic farming techniques, and nutrition.

Upon arrival at the farm, students are grouped to prepare the land, to plant and or harvest
crops, learning activities regarding watering techniques, cultural foods and traditions, and
food justice. In addition, students participate in mindfulness activities including yoga and
meditation or other physical education activities.

SVP Outdoor Experiential Program

Since 2012, South Valley Preparatory School has worked in collaboration with the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation (CWG) for our students to participate in a variety of outdoor classroom expeditions. Each year, through middle school, our students’ outdoor experiential opportunities increase. Each year, these
opportunities connect learning from the classroom to hands-on experiences in the wilderness.

6th grade

  • 1 day field trip to tent Rocks, foothills, or other local area
  • Introduces students to CWG and the outdoors and supports science curriculum

7th grade

  • 1 day trip to Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge, Carlito Springs area, or other local area
  • 1 overnight trip at Cottonwood Gulch basecamp with exploration of the Lava Tubes and Blue Water


  • Introduces students to CWG and the outdoors and supports science curriculum
  • Starts to emerge 7th grade into idea of wilderness and lay foundation for SIWI program

8th grade

  • SIWI project with a total of 10 days in the wilderness
  • 1 day trip in Fall
  • 3 day camping trip
  • 1 day trip in Spring
  • 5 day back packing trip in the Spring

8th Grade Students in Wilderness Initiative (SIWI) Project

South Valley Prep’s 8th grade students were chosen to participate in the Students in Wilderness Initiative (SIWI). SIWI is a 3 year project funded partially by a grant from the Wilderness Society, which is an effort to connect more local youth with their local lands.


  • Expose New Mexican youth to Wilderness Designated Lands, Wilderness Study Areas, Proposed Wilderness Areas and locations determined as having Wilderness Characteristics
  • Engage students in a conversation about the issues relating to Wilderness, conservation and preservation in NM wildlands
  • Connect youth to policymakers and stakeholders addressing these issues
  • Immerse students in outdoor experiences and wild places in NM
  • Engage youth in service projects related to wilderness areas
  • Create investment and ownership of the wild places of NM by local youth
  • Facilitate outdoor experiences for a socioeconomically representative group of NM students

Three Key Components to the SIWI Program

Classroom Expeditions: 10 days in wilderness to bring outdoor living skills and quiet time in a wild place, bring alive topics learned back at school in the outdoor classroom, understand the uniqueness of wilderness protections, use art, music, and writing to capture experiences, meet with neighbors to discuss impacts (when applicable)

Once-Monthly Facilitated Classroom Sessions: address topics including wilderness designation definitions, panel presentations and roundtable discussion with stakeholders, and skill building sessions

Final Presentation: bring together stakeholders, policy makers, and students to a series of student presentations on experience and research on Wilderness; provide an opportunity for students to receive feedback and field questions from New Mexico stakeholders and policymakers