Michelle Talks Gardens, Fitness in Alexandria

And she admits her hula-hooping has received "a little too much attention"

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 16: First Lady Michelle Obama speaks with student Kellyn Craig, 16, (L) at South High School on November 16, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. She planned to share personal stories, discuss her career and answer student questions during the visit. The trip was part of the White House leadership and mentoring initiative, designed to put students in touch with older people who can serve as their mentors. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    First Lady Michelle Obama received a few gardening tips from students Wednesday as she toured a, Alexandria elementary school's vegetable garden. She and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Hollin Meadows Elementary to promote the Obama administration's Healthier U.S. Schools initiative.

    Students showed the first lady how they harvested lettuce from the school's extensive garden that will be used in the salad at a special Thanksgiving luncheon later this week.

    "We do the same thing in our garden at the White House," she said as they demonstrated how they dig up the lettuce by its roots and tap loose the topsoil.

    The first lady has made an effort to promote childhood fitness and nutrition, installing a produce garden at the White House. Last month she hula-hooped on the South Lawn of the White house as part of a kids' health fair. The first lady joked Wednesday that the video of her hula-hooping has received "a little too much attention."

    Obama and Vilsack also passed out bananas and tangerines in the school's cafeteria line. What was else was on the menu today? Veggie burgers on whole wheat buns, mixed cantaloupe and grapes, and milk.The first lady praised the school's efforts to promote nutrition as well as their decision to extend recess periods to promote fitness.

    School officials explained that they extended the recess period from 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day, not only because it promotes fitness but because it helps the kids learn social interaction and leaves them more focused and engaged during classroom time.

    "If anyone has kids, you know they need ... some exercise to focus," Mrs. Obama said. "If you have a dog, you know that." 

    Students didn't know until this morning that the first lady would be dropping by. Fourth-grader Sydnie Vest was one of several kids who lined up to receive a hug; she said she didn't want to let the opportunity slip by.  "It was a special hug because that was probably the last time I'll ever be able to do that," she said.