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Garden project helps inmates, community and students

Apr 26, 2015 By Karla Pomeroy, For The Associated Press

A partnership between Northwest College and the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office is designed to benefit students, inmates and community members in Basin.

"I'm always looking for opportunities to do good things in our community," Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn said. "I've always wanted to get some community service going for our jail."

Blackburn added that a lot of projects are not possible due to security regulations, and other restrictions for the federal prisoners housed at the county facility.

He was approached about a service project for the business capstone class and came up with the idea he'd considered for a while -- a garden area for the inmates.

There are 15 students involved in the business capstone class. NWC requires that every student complete a capstone project in his/her major. This is the final year for that requirement.

The business students brainstormed ideas, according to Jacob Nicholson of Burlington and Marcos Aguilar of Sidney, Mont. They looked at a variety of projects, including recycling. The class voted and the winner was the project brought forth by KJ Blackburn of Cowley, Sheriff Blackburn's son.

"We were looking for something that would make the community better and help people," KJ Blackburn said.

He said the garden project at the detention center, fit everything the students were looking for. "This gives (the inmates) a chance to get out of their cell and do something productive for the community."

Nicholson added that is gives students the opportunity to serve the community, and Aguilar noted many of the students have ties to Big Horn County.

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