Becker creates visual oasis for staff, students


Rebel with a green cause

Rockford, IL. – You might say Amanda Becker bleeds red, black, and green.  The Auburn High School alum has committed much of her life, including her free time, to her students.  So it was no surprise when she approached the administration at Auburn in 2007 to request to plant a garden she hoped would add color, vibrancy, and spirit to a school, staff, and students that sometimes need a lift.  

“I went to the principal at the time and I asked him, ‘Can I have a garden?” she asked.  “And he said no. I did not let that stop me and I found a way to do it anyway.  And it just kinda bloomed from there.”

Currently, Becker is transforming a small but growing area outside the west side of the school near the teacher’s parking lot and an entry door.  A few plants located there a few years back have blossomed into a gateway of color for staff who can enter the building at all hours.

Sunflowers, petunias, perennials, annuals, and a host of other plants adorn both sides of the walkway and the building as folks exit their cars to come in and go home.  At least three other locations – outside the gym, tech wing, and auditorium – are also products of Becker’s handiwork. 

The visual paradise was initially made possible by mostly her own money.  Some funds have now been made available by the administration as the garden expands.  Becker hopes to build even more green spots in the coming months and years at various sites around the school.

The removal of bushes outside the school ignited her initial passion to make things “look better.” 

One of her favorite summer flowers, the sunflower, she starts inside the school with her students who then transplant them outside when it is warm enough.

“Sunflowers are good because they encourage bees, and bees are good,” she said. “I do it because it’s fun.”

INTERACT Club members and other students help out with things like watering and planting.  Becker’s family can also be spotted working at one site or the other over the summer.

“There was no funding for the garden at the time, but I knew I could fund the gardens,” she said. “I appreciate the help from the students and others who donate time and or plants and such.” 

Becker’s work as a local historian and a reenactor continues to allow her to take education outside her classroom.  She then brings that contagious enthusiasm back inside the classroom as she shares those experiences and that knowledge with students.

“I love history and I love Auburn,” she said. “This school has been a part of me since the 90s (I graduated in 2000).  I do it because it’s fun and I want to share my passion with others so they can enjoy it too.”