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Mission Statement:
Empower each individual to make responsible choices, meet challenges, achieve personal success, and contribute to a global society.

November 3, 2015 


Planting the seed, cultivating knowledge and understanding through Garden program

Gardening, with a twist: the Garden Program at Niskayuna's Birchwood Elementary has taught students how to garden while also teaching them how to be charitable.

Twenty-five students and several parent volunteers in the Garden Program celebrated the conclusion of a bountiful season by serving 50 pounds of carrots at the annual Back to School Barbecue and for lunch in their own school cafeteria. An additional 46 pounds of fresh carrots were donated to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY. Gardeners also harvested an abundance of lettuce earlier in the season, which included five pounds donated to the food bank.

"How fantastic is it that the students participating in this effort have a chance to fine tune their gardening skills, and also learn the value of being charitable," said Debra Berndt, an Integrated Management Needs Specialist at Birchwood. "We often talk with students about filling our buckets by doing random acts of kindness, giving compliments and supporting fellow students. This gardening effort is a perfect example of filling buckets outside of the school walls."

The program has been sponsored by the Birchwood PTO since 2013.

"I'm proud of my budding gardeners," said Birchwood parent Katie Cowley-Cooper. She and her husband Mike served as this season's parent directors – watching students' flourish as their enthusiasm for gardening grew.