Helping Student Gardeners With Green Our Planet
This homegrown non-profit is using school gardens to teach students important lessons about math, science, business ownership and finances.
Nevada State Bank is proud to assist the non-profit Green Our Planet organization, which teaches Nevada school students about environmental issues, health, and conservation, and also exposes them to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) topics. GOP uses school gardens to demonstrate not only how food grows, but also how fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy diet. Since its founding in January 2013, GOP has helped elementary schools in southern Nevada build 165 gardens, using financial assistance and volunteers from local businesses. The majority of gardens are constructed at Title 1 schools, where most students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches due to low household income.
The GOP curriculum starts as early as kindergarten, and builds on early lessons about how plants grow, moving on to how insects affect plants, how composting works, how climate and soil influence plants, and much more. Chefs visit classrooms to share tips about healthy eating, nutrition and cooking. Hands-on experience in the garden can include planting, weeding, checking for insects, tending a compost pile, and finally, harvesting the fruits and vegetables.
Financial literacy is an important part of the curriculum for fifth-grade students. These lessons help students prepare to sell their produce at a farmer’s market after harvesting their crops. Students first write a business plan for their market stall business, using math to help them estimate costs, price their items, determine profits, and much more. Follow-up lessons discuss customer service, the importance of a savings account, cash handling, and marketing their business. Although these lessons could apply to starting any small business, students can see the lessons in action when they apply them in their own market stall.
Money raised at the farmer’s market is reinvested into the school’s garden program, teaching students how the business cycle operates. This school year, Nevada State Bank volunteers taught GOP financial literacy lessons to fifth-grade students at three southern Nevada schools: Gilbert Magnet School, Josh Stevens Elementary, and Wendell Williams Elementary.
Participating in the farmer’s market, held twice each year, is the culmination of all this hard work. On April 12, more than 30 Nevada State Bank colleagues volunteered to help students at Green Our Planet’s Giant Student Farmers Market at downtown Summerlin. The largest student-run farmers market in America, it features more than 450 students from 45+ schools in Southern Nevada. Students ran the market themselves, putting into practice the lessons they learned in the classroom. Nevada State Bank volunteers helped the students handle money and processed credit card receipts for customers eager to buy the fresh produce grown in schools’ gardens.
In Northern Nevada, GOP is teaching high school students how to grow fruits and vegetables hydroponically. With help from a $10,000 grant from Nevada State Bank, students at Innovations High School in Reno are growing herbs and lettuce in a three-unit hydroponics system. Lessons about hydroponics, agriculture, business development, and finances are being developed for use in teachers’ STEAM lesson plans. Nevada State Bank colleagues in the Reno area will help the students with financial lessons on how to start their produce-selling business so they can participate in a farmer’s market, which is planned for May.
"Nevada State Bank is happy to support Green Our Planet’s programs,” said Nevada State Bank President and CEO Terry Shirey. “Using their curriculum to teach students how math, finance and businesses work together is especially important to our bank, since we have a long history of supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in Nevada. The students we’re teaching now may become the Nevada business owners of tomorrow, and that would be a great outcome for them, for the bank, and for the whole state.”
Photo caption: Nevada State Bank volunteer Debby Smith assists students at the Farmers Market sponsored by Green Our Planet. More than 30 Nevada State Bank colleagues helped out at the event.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC