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Gardening for a second chance

Gardening may be a hobby for many in eastern Idaho, but for some teens, it’s a way of getting a second chance in life.

If you drive on Hemmert Avenue in Idaho Falls, you may have noticed a garden. It may look like any other garden, with corn grown as high as an elephant’s eye and pumpkins peeking through their vines. But there’s a lot more growing there than one would imagine: good character.

“At that time, they were trying to find an opportunity for children, juveniles that have been assigned community service to get their hours, to get their work effort, just to give back to the community,” said Shalee Claiborne.

Dick Moulton was the county’s chief juvenile probation officer. He saw the hardships some kids struggled through and believed that everyone deserved a second chance.

“He really believed that teaching the kids and the work ethic of being accountable would have a very positive impact in their lives,” said Claiborne.

And this summer alone, 190 young people have grown over 800 pounds of vegetables at the Moulton Gardens. All of the food isbeing donated to charity organizations such as EICAP, the Haven, the soup kitchen, and local food banks.

“The success rate of those that participated have been tremendous. Seeing kids that when they started the program had no goals — I had one kid told me that if I don’t have any goals then there’s no failure. To have him to get back on track for high school, get a driver license, get a job and then have him come back and tell us he’s looking into colleges. It’s amazing to see that this program can have that kind of positive impact,” said Claiborne.

Of those 190 kids in the program this summer, zero have found themselves in trouble with probation officers.

“They are my kids. You grow these really strong bonds. You care about them, and you want them to succeed. And as a mom, that’s the role I’ve kind of taken on with them here,” said Claiborne.

You can pick your own corn from Moulton Gardens Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

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