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Dayton teacher named Nevada Cattlemen’s “Teacher of The Year” – selected for “Think-Tank on Food Systems” by Quest Lakes

By ThisIsReno

school garden largeHEALTHY COMMUNITIES COALITION NEWS RELEASE DAYTON – The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association has named Bob Gardner, 5th grade teacher at Dayton Elementary School, “2013 Teacher of the Year.”

“Gardner was nominated by many of his colleagues for this work, and once we received his nomination, it was clear why,” said Desiree Seal, executive director of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. “Gardner puts an incredible amount of time and effort into his program and passes his passion on to his students.” The Nevada Agriculture Foundation will donate $1,000 to Gardner’s classroom for school supplies, and Gardner was recognized during the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association Annual Awards Banquet in Sparks in November.

Gardner’s students class project has been noted nationally for its innovative use of a school garden and low tech green house, or hoop house – his students learn how to grow their own food, create compost, design a garden, protect crops from small animals, and how to design a business plan to market and distribute their organic crops.

USDA Funding for School Gardens: The Dayton Elementary garden and hoop house is one of 8 school gardens kick-started in Lyon County schools between 2010 and 2013 with funding, in part, from a USDA grant to the Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties and its nonprofit garden center Community Roots.

The Dayton Elementary project lasts all year, beginning in the Fall when students harvest the prior class crop. During the winter months, the students design the garden, repair and maintain the hoop house, and then plant the next season’s crops during the spring. During the summer, the produce is sold at the Dayton farmer’s market at Community Roots and to local restaurants, and part of the crop is donated to the local food pantry. The students use the school garden and hoop house as a STEM lab with hands-on lessons ( acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). They’re divided into teams of five with each team forming a department on soil science, research, planning, procurement, repair, and distribution. Each team takes measurements and researches things such as space needed for specific crops, soil temperatures and best arrangement of crops for enhanced production, hoop house maintenance and repair, cost estimates and need for seed, compost, hoses, etc.

Northern Nevada Food Systems Summit: The project has been given national attention in USDA Rural Development articles, and resulted in Gardner being selected to participate in a prestigious, multi-sector think-tank on Northern Nevada Food Systems at the Governor’s Mansion this November.