As part of our National School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute we co-hosted a visit of 42 school garden leaders to visit the wonderful school garden program at Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
December 8th, 2022
Garden Leaders from Across the Country Visit PVUSD
Watsonville, CA – On Tuesday, December 6, Superintendent of Schools Michelle Rodriguez, Starlight Principal Jaclynne Medina, District Impact and Resource Development Officer Andrea Carlos Willy, Afterschool Program and Food Services Liaison Patrick Littleton of Pajaro Valley Unified School District and Life Lab Partner Schools Program Leader Aisling Mitchell participated in a panel before 44 school garden leaders from across the country attending Life Lab’s School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute. The 4.5-day Institute includes teams from 22 organizations and agencies advancing district-level garden-based learning programs across 11 U.S. states to convey, learn, and share best practices. PVUSD was proud to speak of valuable experiences and benefits of the exemplary school garden programs that students enjoy and that support learning.
Starlight Elementary’s recent completion of Emeril’s Culinary Garden and Teaching Kitchen (CGTK), founded by PVUSD, foundations, agencies, businesses and donors across our community, offered the perfect backdrop to welcome school garden leaders from around the U.S. PVUSD students, staff, and Life Lab representatives spoke about the wonderful journey the community shared to bring to fruition a meaningful program designed to elicit joy in student learning.
A 3rd grade student from Amesti Elementary participating in the Engineering in the Garden project learned about teamwork and building skills and said, “We built a prototype for our trellis, we thought it would be strong, but when we tried it in the big garden, the rain knocked it down. Then, we had to use teamwork to change our design to make it stronger.” Another student, one in 2nd grade from Starlight Elementary, was inspired to express, “I love nature. AND nature loves me!” The appreciation students have for the teamwork skills and the love for the environment being fomented in the garden classroom are key lessons that we know our students are learning that will help them now and throughout their educational journey.
“We at PVUSD know that students deserve the best learning spaces where they can uncover their passions, interests and talents. Our partnership with LifeLab allows us to offer garden-classrooms as a meaningful and exciting way for students to engage in their education. We are honored to celebrate and showcase these programs with garden leaders from across the Nation because PVUSD has seen how this unique and proven way to learn Next Generation Science Standards has positively impacted our students’ academic and social emotional learning. Garden-classroom learning environments are tightly aligned with PVUSD’s steadfast commitment to the Whole Child, Whole Family, Whole Community to deeply impact student achievement and it merits to be replicated throughout the Nation’s schools,” said Dr. Rodriguez.