January 27, 2016
Green Our Planet, SNWA and CCSD Launch "Earth Day 1 Million" to Save 1 Million Gallons of Water in the school district
Not many people know that one of the largest consumers of water in Southern Nevada is the Clark County School District (!?). But when you think about the fact that there are more than 360 schools and all with green spaces the size of golf courses, then it makes sense.  Thus, in an effort to assist schools to save water, Green Our Planet in partnership with Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Clark County School District and Green Chips has launched a new initiative called "Earth Day 1 Million." The initiative will assist nearly a dozen schools to expand their current school gardens by removing portions of water-intensive grass and to build raised vegetable garden beds and outdoor garden classrooms in these areas instead. This will collectively save more than 1 million gallons of water annually, as drip-fed vegetable garden beds use only a fraction of the water that grass requires. In return for removing the grass, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will provide the schools with a rebate in proportion to the amount of grass removed.

The schools will also be assisted by parents, volunteers and their sponsor partners including Switch, Wynn Resorts, KJS Family Foundation, Owen & Marty Carver, Fruits & Roots, Lowes, JBA Consulting Engineers, The Downtown Project, Nevada State Bank, NewFields, Pomeroy and the Cosmopolitan.  
The Clark County School System Is One of The Largest Consumers of Water in Nevada
New Pre-K through 5th Grade Garden STEM Curriculum Ready For Distribution
CCSD teachers will be happy to learn that the newly-revised and expanded, Pre-K through 5th Grade STEM Curriculum is complete and ready to use. The revisions were made after collecting feedback from teachers using the curriculum across the CCSD during the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, nutrition information was added and the curriculum was extended through Pre-Kindergarten. A revised copy will be delivered by your coordinator at your next garden team meeting.

Green Our Planet Wins $14,000 Sustainability Grant from the Consumer Technology Association
Above: From left to right: Tom Davidson of EverFi; Hugh Sinnock of the LVCVB; unknown; Mayor Caroyln Goodman; Gary Shapiro of CTA; Superintendent Skorkowsky; Touro University representative; Kim MacQuarrie of Green Our Planet

On January 5th, 2016, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ – formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®--announced its continued support of the Las Vegas community through three grants to non-profits working in the Las Vegas area: Green Our Planet, EverFi, and Touro University.

This is the second year in a row that CTA has awarded Green Our Planet a sustainability grant; last year, CTA awarded a $65,000 grant which Green Our Planet leveraged into building 14 new Outdoor Garden Classrooms. This year will bring CTA's total for Green Our Planet to nearly $80,000. The most recent grant will be leveraged into building three new Outdoor Garden Classrooms, making the Consumer Technology Association one of the largest supporters of school gardens in Southern Nevada.

To commemorate the grants, an awards ceremony was held at the Consumer Electronics Show, with Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, CTA President and CEO, Gary Shapiro, and the grant winners attending (see below).

About Green Our Planet’s Outdoor Garden Classroom Program: This signature program integrates school gardens into the education curriculum and helps students raise test scores, learn about healthy eating and lifestyles, combat obesity and foster a greater respect for nature and the environment.
Thank you CTA!
Spotlight On: Amanda Mirkovitch, Science Teacher at Myrtle Tate Elementary School
(Above: Myrtle Tate ES Elementary Science Teacher, Amanda Mirkovitch)

For Amanda Mirkovitch, teaching is a second career. She has been a teacher in the Clark County School District now for three years. When Amanda arrived at Myrtle Tate Elementary School two years ago as a 5th grade teacher, she was in the middle of working on a Master’s degree in STEM curriculum and instruction. Meanwhile, although Myrtle Tate already had a school garden, the teacher who had been in charge of it no longer had the time—so Amanda volunteered to take on the responsibility. Throughout her first year at Myrtle Tate, Amanda lobbied to teach science or at least to make science a priority at the school. At the time, there was no teacher specializing in science classes; instead, science was taught whenever teachers could.

Last spring, Amanda's wish came true. Principal Sarah Popek asked Amanda if she might be interested in teaching science full time, as a K-5 specialist. Amanda jumped at the opportunity, Amanda now teaches K-5 students science (on a 6-day rotation) and uses the school garden as an Outdoor Garden Classroom.

“I’ve been able to utilize the garden as an opportunity to get the kids really excited,” Amanda says, “not only about science, but also about healthy food. We’ve been able to include the garden not only during school hours but also during our after-school program. This month, we’ll be starting our first Garden Club of third through fifth graders as we also work on expanding the garden.”

“I'm originally from Bainbridge Island,” Amanda says, “which is just a ferry ride from Seattle.  Growing up and even while raising my own daughter we always had a garden and grew our own food.  Knowing the importance of where our food comes from was second nature.  Coming to the desert I had no idea what I was in for, however, I’m happy that here at Myrtle Tate we provide the opportunity for students to see food grown, and know the importance of helping our environment through what we eat.”  
Prior to becoming a teacher, Amanda owned and operated a landscaping business where not only did she work with existing landscapes but also put in food gardens that “looked pretty and were functional.”  
“The garden has a huge impact on our students,” Amanda says. “Not only are they excited about the garden, but they talk about it.  I have kids who will stop me in the hallway to tell me all about their visit to the garden with their teacher and our Garden Farms’ farmer.  I also had more students than I anticipated want to join the garden club this year. It's been great to see the kids get so excited about something here at school!”  
Garden Tip
Getting Ready for Spring Planting

By Tiffany Whisenant, General Manager of Garden Farms

Giddy with the prospect of spring bulbs showing themselves just a little early (please?!) and dizzy with images of colorful summer tomatoes from hours spent pouring through seed catalogs, winter truly is the most exciting time for a gardener. January is perfect for planning your spring garden and starting seeds indoors. We at Garden Farms plant most of our vegetables from seed directly in the garden, but a few plants prefer to be started in a warmer climate first. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant get a jump start in a greenhouse, under a grow light or even in a bright windowsill. Early January is the best time to start these plants, as they will need 6-8 weeks to grow inside before being transplanted in the garden around early March.

Remember the mature size of these plants when planning, as well as the manner in which you want them to they grow to ensure there is enough space in your garden (for example, some gardeners prefer to let their tomatoes sprawl as opposed to caging them so that they grow vertically). Many local farmers hold seed exchanges, sell fruit trees and offer transplants in the spring, so even if you aren't able to start your own seeds, you can still keep warm this winter and dream of your spring possibilities. Check out Quail Hollow Farms
and Great Basin Permaculture for local transplants, fruit trees and seeds.
Grant Tip

Captain Planet Garden Grant


The Captain Planet Foundation will accept small grant requests for amounts between $500 – $2,500.  Preferential consideration is given to requests who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. (Projects with matching funds or in-kind support are given priority because external funding is a good indicator of the potential for long-term sustainability of the activities). 

To apply for a grant, click here

The deadline to apply for a Captain Planet Grant is January 31, 2016 

Chef Demo at Mabel Hoggard Elementary School with Chef Lucky Thai
Chef Lucky Thai demonstrating how to cook garden produce at Mabel Hoggard Elementary School, January 25th, 2016
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