Green Our Planet held its first school garden conference in Las Vegas on the first day of spring: March 20, 2014. The conference was held at Bracken Elementary School, one of the leaders in the school garden movement in Las Vegas and whose gardens Green Our Planet and Garden Farms helped to refurbish last year.
More than sixty teachers, administrators and staff from nearly 30 CCSD schools attended, most from schools that are leading the way forwards with their Outdoor Garden Classroom Programs. The following speakers gave talks:
- Jennifer Davis, Desert Oasis High School: Teaching Special Needs Students in the Garden.
- Kat Coveney, John S Park Elementary School: How to Create a Farmer’s Market to Cover Garden Expenses—and Turn Students into Budding Entrepreneurs.
- Jessica Penrod, Green Our Planet: How STEM curricula adapted to the garden will be available for K-5 teachers in September, 2014.
- Karyn Johnson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: How to Start a Jr Master Gardener Program at your School.
- Laura Viar, Monaco Middle School: How to Create and Run a Garden Club at your School.
- Marion Pulse, Green Our Planet: How to Apply for Garden Grants.
- Nick DeMott, Bracken Elementary School: Teaching STEM in the garden.
- Kate McLoughlin, Three Square: The FaVE! Program (Fruits and Vegetables Education Curricula).
- Tiffany Whisenant, Garden Farms: Spring Planting and Harvesting.
- Ciara Byrne, Co-CEO, Green Our Planet: Beginning a Chef-to-School Program at your School.
Whole Foods Market, Henderson provided wraps and fruits, Garden Farms donated a $1,000 raised bed garden to the winner of the school garden blog contest (the winner was Myrtle Tate Elementary School), and the participants also toured the extensive gardens at Bracken Elementary school.
This was the first school garden conference ever held in Las Vegas, Nevada and allowed schools with garden programs to meet and swap information for the first time.
The Outdoor Garden Classroom Program was launched by Green Our Planet in March, 2013. Thus far, thirty CCSD schools have successfully raised money on Green Our Planet’s crowdfunding platform and have built gardens, while many more are launching fundraising campaigns.
In February, 2014, Green Our Planet and Three Square received a grant from the American Honda Foundation to adapt K-5 STEM curricula for use in school gardens. The next-Gen curricula will be made available to all K-5 schools with gardens in Nevada by August, 2014. This will be the first time that adapted curricula for all schools in Nevada will be available for garden use.
Numerous studies have shown that teaching students in an outdoor garden classroom can significantly improve test scores, increases physical exercises, increases knowledge of nutrition and increases the consumption and variety of fruits and vegetables, thus leading to better health.