As the principal of Crestwood Elementary School in the Clark County School District (CCSD), I understand how important STEM education is to the future of our students. I also know that our students learn best through experiential, hands-on learning. We are very lucky at our school because thanks to the support…of Green Our Planet…the garden has had an enormous, positive impact at our school. Our Outdoor Classroom Garden Team has accomplished many goals including being the first school in our district to build an Outdoor Classroom.
With tremendous community support, we transformed our garden into a classroom equipped with a table, bench, and whiteboard. We currently have ten teachers who routinely use the garden to teach reading, writing, and math. Our school has facilitated two teacher-led Topic Studies that focused on integrating STEM curriculum. They also wrote a "Math in the Garden" curriculum. The culture at our school has benefited from the garden immensely because teachers, students, and parents alike are involved and excited to continue to develop our Garden Programs. This summer, our school will launch the district's first ever summer garden program where forty students will spend three weeks gardening and cooking with produce from our own garden."
Crestwood Elementary School
Las Vegas, Nevada
We have been extremely grateful for the amazing support from the Sportsman Family and Green Our Planet when we were able to build our outdoor garden classroom at Park two years ago. The garden has had an enormous, positive impact at our school.
Our garden club has early morning weekly meeting times, no matter the weather, in order to weed, plant, harvest, and sell our produce. Farmers' markets have been run by the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders where the students harvest, set-up and set the prices, then display the produce for sell to our local families and community members. Our families and local neighbors have been instrumental in keeping our garden growing by supporting the kids and the garden.
Classroom teachers are also using the garden with STEM lessons. By getting our students out of their seats and into an engaging environment, our students have benefited from being able use all their senses in order to make connections and lasting learning experiences. The excitement and joy that having an outdoor class such as this garden is an important element to moving our students towards being engaged in learning."
John S Park Elementary School
Las Vegas, Nevada
Our mission at United Way is to improve lives and build stronger and healthier communities. We fully support the work that the Green Our Planet is undertaking with their Outdoor Garden Classroom Program as we recognize it has the potential to positively affect the health and well-being of thousands of students and their parents in our community.
Walter Bracken Elementary is one of the schools involved in Green Our Planet's Outdoor Garden Classroom Program and the principal, Katie Decker, informed us that the school will—with the help of the Clark County School District, Green Our Planet and Garden Farms—be launching the first Farmers Market in an elementary school in the CCSD in the Fall of 2013. Principal Decker approached United Way to see if we can integrate "The Piggy Bank" and financial literacy program into their proposed farmers market. Her goal is to have fifth graders set up and run the farmers market as a business, with guidance from United Way, Green Our Planet, and Garden Farms. We think this is a unique and exciting program that will not only educate the students about how to build a business but will also provide a huge service to the surrounding community which is currently designated as a "food desert." We can foresee many other potential collaborations with the Farm to School Program at CCSD in the future.
To sum up, United Way very strongly supports Green Our Planet's Outdoor Garden Classroom Program!"
United Way, Las Vegas, Nevada
My teachers and I have worked for the past five years with Green Our Planet as they provide important support and resources for our garden and hydroponic programs. We currently have Green Our Planet Farmers teaching science classes once a week at all three of my schools and these farmers provide guidance on how to solve any issues in our gardens that might prevent them from thriving. We also have a Green Our Planet coordinator who meets monthly with the teachers on the Garden Teams at all three schools to help the teachers stay on track with their garden goals, and to connect them to needed resources.
One of the most important services Green Our Planet provides is training teachers how to use the
outdoor and indoor gardens for teaching project-based STEAM lessons. This year Green Our Planet's teacher trainer, Sue Cormier, taught every one of the teachers at all three of my schools one-on-one with their students over the course of six weeks. Each teacher had a lesson with Sue in the garden one week and then had to teach another lesson the next week and so on for six weeks. Sue is now measuring the number of minutes teachers are teaching in the gardens as a result of this training. I have no doubt that it will increase and thus improve student academic achievement in STEAM....
I know first hand the positive impacts learning outside can have on students from increasing the amount of vegetables they eat to increasing academic performance in science, math, engineering, technology and art...."
Las Vegas, Nevada
As the principal of Ruth Fyfe Elementary School in the Clark County School District (CCSD), it is with pleasure that I write this letter of support for [a grant proposal] in collaboration with Green Our Planet and Las Vegas Downtown Achieves.
Here at Ruth Fyfe we are committed to providing the best education possible for our students and to that end we are focused on ensuring our students receive hands-on, project-based learning in science, technology, engineering and math. One of the best ways we've found to provide such learning for our students is in the outdoor garden classroom at our school.
A little over a year ago, we partnered with Green Our Planet who helped find a sponsor to refurbish our garden, The Junior League of Las Vegas. Green Our Planet also applied for a $5000 Lowes grant which we used to expand the garden. We currently have an active garden team with a teacher from each grade level involved. We are planning a big community event over three Saturdays this April where parents and community volunteers are going to help expand our garden, build benches, a harvesting table and paint murals. We have had a couple of farmers markets run by our 5th graders this year. We will have three chef demonstrations this year where a chef comes in and helps prepare food from the garden for the students.
Some of our teachers are using the Outdoor Garden Classroom STEM curriculum but not all of them and so I am glad to be part of this grant to ensure the teachers at my school are trained in how to use the outdoor classroom as well as how to use the STEM curriculum. Recently, I read a study carried out in Louisiana in 2003 called When they touch they remember by a scientist called Emekawa. The scientist discovered that student outcomes in STEM through teaching in the outdoor classroom were directly related to the amount of training teachers received. The…grant will make teacher training possible so I am fully in support of it."
Las Vegas, Nevada
I just wanted to thank you again for all your efforts in helping schools thrive by not only having Outdoor Classroom Garden Programs but also, by connecting us to supportive people. Your work contributes to a big impact.
I shared yesterday how students are choosing salad clubs as their reward lunch instead of pizza! Today, during Garden Gnomies (our garden club), the students had $100 to spend as they democratically choose among 3 conservation foundations (Protecting hummingbirds, bees, and monarch butterflies). They split up into groups. Each group presented a proposal of how to spend the profits of their Farmers' Markets. The winning proposal was to give each foundation $30 and spend $10 on a hummingbird feeder. They did this because as we were meeting, they saw a hummingbird zip past the garden and wondered why it didn't stay in our garden. They realized it was because we had we missing flowers for the hummingbirds to eat from. The students' solution was to put up a feeder.
Everyday, the students surprise me and fill me up with hope. I know for a fact, Crestwood couldn't do this without you! Students and families are realizing their power while working in the garden. Our school culture is benefiting tremendously."
Las Vegas, Nevada