School Garden Conference showcased growing city-wide school garden movement, spearheaded by local nonprofit based at The Innevation Center at Switch
Green Our Planet (GOP), organizer of one of the nation’s fastest growing outdoor garden classroom programs, held its 2nd Annual School Garden Conference for Nevada educators at The Innevation Center at Switch on May 14th.
According to GOP’s co-founder Ciara Byrne, their organization has already raised more than $750,000 and built gardens at 64 Clark County schools and launched Nevada’s first K-5 garden curriculum, written to Nevada State and Next Generation Science Standards. By this summer, they will have helped fund 75 school gardens in a little over two years. The organization is currently on track to complete its 100th learning garden later this year.
“This week’s school garden conference was a symbol of the rapid growth of the program that we launched a little over two years ago and was the largest Nevada has seen,” said Byrne. “Last year, we had 70 teachers and principals attend the conference. This year, we had over 200.”
Green Our Planet began its signature program, the Outdoor Garden Classroom, in the spring of 2013. Using GOP’s innovative crowdfunding website and leveraging over 40 corporate partnerships with organizations like Switch, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Sands, Wynn Resorts, JBA Consulting Engineers, Control Power Concepts, Diamond Resorts, the Cosmopolitan, KJS Family Foundation, Whole Foods Market, the Mentors Foundation and Lowe’s, more than 64 CCSD schools were able to raise the funds needed to build garden classrooms at their schools.
“Numerous studies have shown that schools with environmental education programs score much higher on standardized tests in math and science,” said Kristi Overgaard, Executive Vice President of Awesomeness at Switch, and who introduced Ms. Byrne at the conference. “It’s also known that the earlier students learn about eating a healthy, nutritious diet, the greater the impact that education will have, which is why we support Green Our Planet. Their mission perfectly aligns with our own.”
With education and nutrition being a central message of the program, it is no surprise that it has attracted more than 50 professional chefs who routinely donate their time and skills to Green Our Planet’s Outdoor Garden Classroom Program, giving chef demonstrations to students at schools across the Las Vegas Valley.
“What better way to inspire children to eat healthy and learn scientific fundamentals than to provide them with the opportunity to grow their own garden then eat the food it produces,” said Chef Brett, Executive Chef at Honey Salt restaurant and who attended the conference. “It’s a privilege to be involved with such an innovative program. My only hope is that we see even more school gardens built in the near future.”
See more photos from the conference at: Conference Photos