Fun with scarecrow — Jackson Elementary School first graders Joe Carroll, left, and Kayla Vota, far right, have some fun in the school garden with principal Michele Miller. Jackson hopes to expand its garden with help from Recyclebank customers. Village Life photo by Pat Dollins

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Recycle: It’s good for the can, the bottle and the school

By January 11, 2012

Jackson Elementary School students need the community’s help to get a closer look at Mother Nature’s work.

The school recently teamed up with Recyclebank, the company that rewards customers who fill up their El Dorado Disposal recycling bins, to raise funds for a school garden expansion. Recyclebank customers (current and new) simply have to donate their rewards points to the school through the Recyclebank Green Schools Program. Recyclebank will award $1 for every 250 points donated and, at the end of the grand period (March 15), match every dollar earned.

Jackson Elementary has applied for a $2,059 grant, which means the school could get as much as $4,118 if enough Recyclebank customers chip in.

“It’s a fabulous program,” said Jackson Principal Michele Miller. “Everybody wins.”

The proposed garden expansion would turn a small lot on school grounds into a “science/grow center,” Miller explained, complete with a weather station and two special garden boxes that will allow “students to observe the vastly intricate underground ecosystem critical to producing quality organic vegetables at high yields. Students will see how worms and insects affect both soil quality and root network design,” according to Jackson’s project description.

A Jackson Elementary School parent who works for Grounds for Play, a company that manufactures playground equipment, helped Miller decide what the garden expansion should include and, she said, the school’s parent-teacher organization supported the project. The school had no funding options for the expansion until Recyclebank account manager Jamie Staples contacted Miller and, after touring the school’s current garden, encouraged her to apply for the grant.

“Everybody in El Dorado Hills has access to Recyclebank,” Staples said, pointing out that new Recyclebank customers get 300 bonus points that could go right into Jackson School’s bank.

Recyclebank’s initiative is to encourage eco-minded students and educate them on the importance of organic farming, according to Staples.

Jackson Elementary School has a similar philosophy and, Miller said, the school’s current outdoor education programs has been wildly successful. Once a month students have class in the garden with the garden coordinator and assistants. The garden, which is planted in above-ground planter boxes (a requirement after the naturally occurring asbestos discovery in the area several years ago), includes sections for native California plants, pizza ingredients, plants that appeal to the senses, and plants that attract birds and butterflies.

Jackson also has a Garden Club and a greenhouse where students grow and sell herbs and second-graders get bulbs to take home.

The program has inspired many home gardens, including one at Principal Miller’s home, she said. Among other things, Miller grows pumpkins for her grandchildren.

“I would never have done that if not for the experiences I’ve had here,” Miller said.

The amount raised through this grant will ultimately decide how grand Jackson’s garden expansion will be. The design is flexible, Miller said, adding that she plans to get her students involved in the process once the school has a set budget. To donate points to Jackson Elementary School visit and search “Green Schools Program.”

Noel Stack


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