Green Our Planet Brings School Garden and Hydroponics Programs to Schools Across the Country Despite Challenges Posed By COVID!

It’s National Garden Month, and today we’re featuring a success story from Green Our Planet! Green Our Planet is one of our partnering organizations based in Las Vegas, Nevada, that brings school garden and hydroponics programs to schools across the country. Green Our Planet believes in the power of experiential learning through these school garden and hydroponics programs. A huge part of their mission is educating students about health and nutrition. Green Our Planet provides nutrition education to students through in-person demos. Green Our Planet’s Chef Nutrition Specialists go into each school showing the students how to prepare healthy, delicious recipes using student-grown produce. Through this program, students connect to where their food comes from, learn how to make healthy recipes, and gain an understanding of the importance of eating a nutritious diet.

When COVID hit, the schools sent the students home, and the possibility of in-person nutrition lessons, along with their other in-person programming, crumbled. Rather than leaving their destiny to chance, Green Our Planet completely transformed its operational model. They took into account feedback from schools, the community’s current needs, and ideas from a cadre of teachers. The result was a fast-tracked plan to pivot their programming online. For the Chef Nutrition Team, this pivot took their program in two different directions: they began hosting Live Virtual Chef Nutrition Lessons and pre-recorded videos on the Green Our Planet Virtual Academy. Virtually hosting the Live Nutrition Lessons brought forth unforeseen benefits of the program. They began to see that the parents get to participate in the lesson because the students attend the class from home. Not only is parent involvement supporting the success of students, but the parents seem to enjoy participating as well. Another unforeseen benefit is that the students can often cook along with the Nutrition Specialist, allowing them to absorb the lesson experientially.

Green Our Planet creates the pre-recorded lessons on The Green Our Planet Virtual Academy using their standards-aligned Health Curriculum. This online resource is the hub for all of the organization’s online lesson content. It is like a Discovery Kids channel for teachers that is open-access for parents and educators everywhere. In each nutrition video, they feature one of their Chef Nutrition Specialists cooking a meal from start to finish explaining each step and how the ingredients benefit the wellness of your mind and body. You may be wondering: if the students have been cooking from home, what has been happening to all the fruits and vegetables produced by the school gardens and hydroponics systems? Green Our Planet has been donating much of the produce to Delivering With Dignity, a nonprofit that prepares and delivers meals to people in need throughout the Las Vegas community. Now students are back in their classrooms, able to cultivate and enjoy the fruits of their school gardens and hydroponics systems once again. The Chef Nutrition Lessons that Green Our Planet provides will remain online at least until the rest of the school year. Given the program’s success this year, they will likely continue to offer their programming virtually next Fall.

Green Our Planet programming is funded by Nevada Snap-ed.

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