Nevada State Bank is helping its partner school in Southern Nevada, Ruby Thomas Elementary, with a unique program to help students learn outside the traditional classroom setting. Developed by Las Vegas-based Green Our Planet (GOP), the Outdoor Garden Classroom helps schools raise funds for, and build, outdoor vegetable gardens where students can be taught a variety of subjects, including math and science, health, and nutrition education.
Nevada State Bank is sponsoring the cost of the professional “farmer” who maintains the garden at the school. Volunteers from the Bank helped Ruby Thomas students and faculty plant vegetables in the garden on September 15. They plan to return each Tuesday during the school year to help with planting, harvesting, chef demonstrations, farmers’ markets, and other garden-related activities.
“Nevada State Bank‘s commitment to education extends beyond the classroom,” said Terry Shirey, Nevada State Bank president and COO. “For many years, our colleagues have volunteered to teach financial literacy lessons throughout the school year in programs including Junior Achievement, Teach Children to Save, and Banking on Your Future. They also participate in Nevada Reading Week, Career Days, and Education Fairs. The Outdoor Garden Classroom gives us even more opportunities to interact with students and teachers at our partner school to help present important academic and social lessons.”
Research has shown that outdoor learning in gardens is particularly effective at helping under-resourced, low-income students perform better in school by increasing their understanding of math and science and improving their communication skills. Green Our Planet and the Three Square food bank worked with teachers from the Clark County School District to develop the lessons, which adhere to Nevada State and Next Gen standards. The curriculum is oriented around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) lessons.
Observing the garden and working together to help it grow can also teach important lessons that have nothing to do with academic subjects. Exposure to a school garden can increase students’ interest in fruits and vegetables and make them more likely to eat a variety of nutritious foods. School gardening has also been shown to increase self-esteem and help students develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. These lessons can help students succeed not just in school, but in life.
“Principal Kubala and the teachers at Ruby Thomas are very excited about partnering with Nevada State Bank on their Outdoor Garden Program this year,” said Ciara Byrne, Co-CEO of Green Our Planet. “The school has big plans, including building an outdoor classroom so that classes can be conducted outside, expanding the school’s fruit tree orchard, expanding the number of garden beds, and organizing more student-run farmers markets. It’s going to be a great year!”
The Outdoor Garden Classroom Program was launched in Las Vegas in January, 2013. Since then, GOP has helped fund more than 60 school gardens in Las Vegas and has a waiting list of 50 more. Already, it has helped more than 25% of Clark County elementary schools acquire Outdoor Garden Classrooms without asking for school district funding. The school gardens curriculum was made available to all schools in Nevada and is now available on Green Our Planet’s website (lessons.greenourplanet.org).
If you would like to help Ruby Thomas Elementary or another school with their Outdoor Garden Classroom, please contact Sabina Malik at Green Our Planet at 702-273-6908.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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