By Seth Brinkerhoff, Western Alliance Bank – Utah
Some students learn differently.
While some students excel at gaining knowledge by reading books, other students need hands-on
experiences to integrate what they are learning.
That’s one of the reasons Western Alliance Bank, through the Western Alliance Community Foundation,
is so incredibly proud to help sponsor the Green Our Planet Hydroponics STEM Program in Utah. There is
so much benefit in allowing students to build something with their own hands while also utilizing the
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles that will assist them far into their futures.
As a result of the Western Alliance Bank donation, about 12 schools will be able to join the Hydroponics
program and receive all the tools needed to sprout knowledge in the classroom. Essentially, the
hydroponics system becomes a living laboratory where students get to track the growth of their
produce. Western Alliance Bank is also working to bring additional community partners into the
program so that every school seeking a hydroponics system can have one.
As a banker, here’s what excites me about the program. The hydroponics curriculum includes a financial
literacy aspect to it. Eventually, when the gardens mature, students will have the opportunity to sell
what they’ve grown. Green Our Planet calls this the “farmpreneur” phase, where students learn about
starting a business, how to market the products they’ve produced, how to measure profit, selling
techniques and so much more.
With enough schools now participating, Green Our Planet with the support of sponsors and the STEM
Action Center will eventually create a unique event known as the Student-Run Farmers Market, where
all schools come together and sell their produce and other items to the public. Funds raised at the event
will stay with each school to further support -or expand- their own hydroponics system.
If you’re a teacher, I would encourage you to investigate the possibility of getting a hydroponics system
at your school. You can learn more by going to greenourplanet.org. If you’re a Utah company
and want to play a role in helping more students have access to these hands-on learning opportunities, I
encourage you to reach out to Gina Muhlestein at firstname.lastname@example.org , or myself. We’d be happy to
connect with you and look forward to your support.