When You Get, Give

When you get, give! Walter Bracken Elementary garden.

Helping Others is the Key to Your Own Success

What’s the best way to live a satisfying, fulfilling life? It’s simple. Do your best to help others achieve the same. Would you like to live in a greener, healthier home but you need some ideas or motivation?

On September 27th, you will have an opportunity to learn about some of the principles of green living by helping some very deserving young people achieve their goal. A half-day of volunteer service can provide the satisfaction of helping others and could also result in some useful education that you can apply to your own situation at home.

Green Apple Day of Service

I am referring to the Green Apple Day of Service, a nation-wide program of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The program gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects.


This year, the USGBC Nevada Chapter is working with another local group, Green Our Planet, to help the students at the Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Elementary School. The goal is simple: Make their school a greener, more effective learning environment.

Inside, 2,400 classroom lights will be replaced with more energy-efficient ones, saving the school about $4,000 a year while reducing its carbon footprint.

In the yard, the remaining 4,000 square feet of thirsty turf will be removed and replaced with raised-bed gardens that will become a new learning environment for the kids. The school has already managed to transform 28,000 square feet of turf into gardens, quite an admirable feat considering our current drought. When complete, the transformation will reduce the school’s water use by millions of gallons and $16,000 per year!

We are going to help our academic achievement. We are going to help provide healthy food for he kids. We are going to save our resources. To me, this just makes sense.”

– Kathleen Decker, principal

Garden of Possibilities

Results of previously transformed areas are impressive. According to Kathleen Decker, the school’s principal, “The garden has provided an ideal classroom for hands-on, experiential learning for our students, the kind of learning we promote here at our magnet school. Teachers use the garden for science, math, social studies and art classes. Students learn how to grow vegetables and fruit. They learn how to compost and take care of the garden. But our garden also impacts the health of our students. Students learn about where their food comes from and taste vegetables and fruit they’ve never eaten before.”

Taking it a step further, Decker said they have been able to establish the first farmers market in an elementary school in the Clark County School District. “The money we raise from the farmers market will more than cover the cost to maintain the garden and at the same time our students will learn how to create and run a business.”

Teaching kids about the cycle of life by managing a garden, preparing food and selling it in the marketplace is one of the best things that could happen to our community. Resiliency and self-sufficiency are key components in building a viable future.

Green Our Planet

Green Our Planet is doing great work, bringing these programs to schools throughout Southern Nevada. It is uplifting to see the progress they have made. In less than two years, they have raised over $350,000 for school garden projects. So far, sixty projects have been completed, reaching more than 30,000 students. They are also the creators of some very great videos!

In addition, they are developing a K-5 garden curricula for use in schools around the state and beyond. This great resource will be available to teachers very soon.

Part of Green Our Planet’s effectiveness is due to their crowd-funding model. You can donate directly to the project’s success if you can’t make it on the 27th.

Maya Angelou often said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Sign up for the USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service at the Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Elementary School. The event will undoubtedly include every aspect of her simple yet powerful advice. This is how we build community, one school, one block, one neighborhood at a time.

Green Apple Day of Service – Event Details

When: September 27, 2014 – 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Where: Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Elementary School
1200 N. 27th Street (East of Eastern & Searles)
Las Vegas, NV  89101

Register to Volunteer

Or your can email [email protected] to let them know you are coming.

From all the kids: THANKS!


  1. I love this! It makes me want to be a kid again. The next best thing is to show up and help out. I’m in! Thank you for writing about this event and Green Our Planet’s program. Between them and the green building people, good things are happening in Las Vegas.