Moses Lake High School greenhouse vandalized

Plants raised by Moses Lake, Wash., High School students in partnership with a local seed company were damaged when someone vandalized the high school greenhouse.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on January 3, 2017 11:56AM

Last changed on January 3, 2017 2:31PM

Courtesy Tony Kern/Moses Lake FFA
Vandals damaged plants raised by the Moses Lake, Wash., FFA in partnership with McKay Seed Co. School officials are reviewing security camera footage as they investigate the case.

Courtesy Tony Kern/Moses Lake FFA Vandals damaged plants raised by the Moses Lake, Wash., FFA in partnership with McKay Seed Co. School officials are reviewing security camera footage as they investigate the case.

Courtesy Tony Kern/Moses Lake FFA
Vandals spray-painted graffiti and damaged plants raised by the Moses Lake FFA in partnership with McKay Seed Co. in Moses Lake, Wash. School officials are reviewing security camera footage to investigate the case.

Courtesy Tony Kern/Moses Lake FFA Vandals spray-painted graffiti and damaged plants raised by the Moses Lake FFA in partnership with McKay Seed Co. in Moses Lake, Wash. School officials are reviewing security camera footage to investigate the case.


Vandals have damaged plants that students were raising in partnership with a local seed company in the Moses Lake, Wash., High School greenhouse.

The school’s agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, Tony Kern, told the Capital Press the damage occurred Dec. 29.

“Stuff was just chucked on the ground,” he said. “It’s just frustrating. You just want to go, ‘What are you doing? What is the purpose here? Really?’”

The vandals also spray-painted graffiti in the greenhouse.

Half of a science class’ geranium projects were also damaged.

School officials are reviewing security camera footage, Kern said.

The plants were part of a genetics study done in partnership with the McKay Seed Co. in Moses Lake. The seed company hoped to use the greenhouse space to help develop new lines of wheat, barley, buckwheat and quinoa, and partner with the school to provide experience and internship possibilities.

Kern said the seeds were planted in September.

Fabio Pedraza, a plant breeder at McKay Seed, estimated roughly 50 percent of the plants were salvageable.

Kern and Pedraza said the cost of the damage is relatively small.

Much of the damage is time lost, Pedraza said.

It takes a year to make an experimental cross, raise it in a greenhouse and have something to plant in field trials the following year, he said.

Some identification tags were also removed, making it difficult to tell which plant is which, Pedraza said.

Pedraza expects the partnership with the school to continue.

“Hopefully it will blossom into something that ends up being really neat and beneficial for our kids as well as McKay Seed,” Kern said. “It’s really a neat opportunity.”

McKay plans to update equipment and install new lights over three years in the school’s older greenhouse, Kern said.

The partnership will help FFA students learn from “real, true scientific studies,” Kern said.

“Tons of kids like science or think they like science, but they don’t really make that connection to a job,” he said.



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