This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
First School Garden Conference to be Held in Las Vegas
Published on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 (10:08 a.m.)First School Garden Conference to be Held in Las Vegas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2014
Ciara Byrne, Co-CEO, Green Our Planet (702) 624-8912, [email protected]
Kathleen Coveney, GATE teacher, John S Park Elementary (702) 239-9892
Cherryl Kaopua, PR Specialist, (702) 539-6171, [email protected]
LAS VEGAS, NV --- In a city where the local school district has some of the worst test scores in the nation and where high school graduation rates are 47th out of 50 states, school gardens just might be a way to turn some of those statistics around. Green Our Planet (GOP), a local non-profit that launched a city-wide school garden initiative across the Las Vegas valley last year, believes that is the case. And on March 20th, they are hosting the first school garden conference in Las Vegas where some of the results of their initiative will be announced.
“There have been a lot of studies that have shown that outdoor gardens are an incredibly powerful teaching tool,” said Ciara Byrne, co-CEO and co-founder of Green Our Planet. “It’s a movement sweeping across the U.S. And one reason for that is because gardens have been shown to raise student test scores.”
Green Our Planet began its signature program, Outdoor Garden Classrooms, in the spring of 2013. Using GOP’s innovative crowdfunding website, more than 25 CCSD schools have raised funds since then to build garden classrooms at their schools. Another 50 schools are currently carrying out a campaign or on a waiting list to launch their own garden fundraisers. Since March, 2013 Green Our Planet has raised more than $160,000 for school gardens in Las Vegas. In Feb 2014, they were awarded a grant from the American Honda Foundation to adapt science curricula in grades K-5 for use in Outdoor Garden Classrooms.
A growing number of schools are interested in establishing teaching gardens because all of the funding is raised outside of the school district on Green Our Planet’s website platform. The schools also recognize that garden classrooms are powerful learning tools. Research has shown that teaching children in outdoor gardens can substantially improve both test scores and nutrition. Instead of reading about science and nutrition inside a classroom, students can instead practice scientific, hands-on methods outside.
“Numerous studies have shown that schools with environmental education programs score much higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening,” said Brian Burton, President and CEO of Three Square Food Bank, which runs its own nutrition program for elementary school students, called FaVE! “It’s also known that the earlier students learn about eating a healthy, nutritious diet, the greater the impact that education will have.”
“The school garden is a fantastic teaching tool for all teachers across the curriculum,” said Kathleen Coveney, a GATE teacher at John S. Park Elementary School. “Green Our Planet helped us install our garden over the summer, and the impact it’s had has gone well beyond just science and nutrition. We love it!"
With over two dozen gardens built and with a waiting list for many more, Green Our Planet decided to host the first school garden conference ever held in Las Vegas, so that teachers and administrators from different Clark County schools could learn from one another and share their garden experiences.
“I’m very excited about the whole garden movement,” said Ms. Coveney. “I’ve seen the impact our garden has had students. It’s a transformational experience.”
About Green Our Planet:
Green Our Planet is a not-for-profit organization founded locally and dedicated to educating the public about the most pressing environmental issues facing the planet today. Its goal is to help conserve, protect and improve the environment through funding green projects and through education, which includes STEM, nutrition and conservation education in K-12 Schools. Founded in March, 2014, Green Our Planet has thus far helped fund projects ranging from Outdoor Garden Classrooms in Las Vegas to the installation of solar panels at a homeless shelter in Carson City and to planting thousands of trees in the high Andes of Peru. Visitors can view and donate to current green projects being funded on its website at www.GreenOurPlanet.org.