A garden can be much more than just a place to grow fruits and vegetables. For many students in the Clark County School District, a garden can also be an open-air classroom (Pictured: Employees and volunteers who helped build the garden at Halle Hewetson Elementary School include Chris Gaynor, Vice President, Bank of Nevada John Guedry, CEO, Bank of Nevada and Debra Guedry, volunteer).
That’s why Bank of Nevada supports the efforts of the nonprofit group Green Our Planet which has built 108 gardens on school campuses in the Clark County School District. The majority of gardens, about 80 percent, are constructed at Title 1 schools – meaning schools where the majority of students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
The most recent school garden was placed at Halle Hewetson Elementary School, not far from Downtown Las Vegas, where several Bank of Nevada volunteers, including Bank of Nevada CEO John Guedry, helped to get the garden ready for students. Along with the raised-bed planting areas, volunteers helped to create two outdoor classroom areas, a harvesting table, and a commercial grade composter.
As part of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum that accompanies the garden, students will learn the science behind what it takes for plants to grow, which plants are well-suited to southern Nevada soil, and most importantly, how fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Once the fruit and vegetable harvest begins, another educational aspect of the garden will kick into gear. The fifth-grade students will create a farmers market to sell those items grown on school grounds. Money raised from that sale will go back into the garden program at the school. Thus, the students learn the circle of a business cycle, the slate of a produced product and subsequent reinvestment in the business.
Hewetson principal Ariel Villalobos is particularly proud and excited that students will be exposed to the wonders of gardening, as several studies have shown students schools with outdoor garden classrooms tend to score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.