Sarah Pounders – Education Specialist
Sarah Pounders – Education Specialist

The first week of December, I had the chance to attend the Regional National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference in Columbus, Ohio with our partner Evergreen Packaging to promote the 2017 Carton 2 Garden Contest. For 3 days, we visited with enthusiastic science educators from all over the country chatting about their current gardening pursuits and environmental programs and also their future plans to start new garden programs and to participate in the Carton 2 Garden Contest. So. Much. Fun! I am quite positive I learned as much information about school gardens as I shared.

Our booth visitors frequently commented that saving milk cartons either for recycling or repurposing was already an activity they were engaged in and that they were excited to learn about a chance to use their efforts to earn money for school garden programs. Participating in Carton 2 Garden is really quite simple:

  1. Save empty milk and juice cartons either from your school cafeteria or students can also bring them in from home.
  2. Creatively re-purpose the cartons for gardening activities or to build garden structures while engaging students in hands-on learning that fosters environmental stewardship and healthy living.
  3. Capture the results of your efforts (in writing and photos for grade level prizes and in video for the specialty awards and grand prize) and submit your entry form by April 12, 2017.

Prizes for winners range from $1,000 up to $5,000 – more than enough funds to build a strong foundation for a new school garden or to expand an existing one.

In the past two years, I have been absolutely blown away by the creative and innovative ideas submitted. Some example projects from last year’s winners included a carton-based shade house, a micro-green growing hydroponic experiment, and a rainwater capturing system. A common theme with many of the winning programs was that the project concept and process were student-led. You can find full details about this year’s contest along with additional information about past years’ winners for inspiration at:

In addition to these web resources, as a new feature this year we will offer a webinar on January 11 at 3 pm EST to provide you with even more background about the contest. The webinar will include:

  • An overview of the contest rules and requirements.
  • Examples of exceptional Carton 2 Garden projects from past winners.
  • A summary of best practices to help you create a successful educational program around your Carton 2 Garden Project.
  • An introduction to indoor gardening basics to help you get growing.
  • Tips for writing and compiling your application to create an eye-catching entry.

You can attend the presentation live or it will also be recorded and posted so that you can view at your convenience. Click here to register for the webinar and even if you cannot attend, by registering you will receive notification when the webinar is posted for viewing.

Now is the perfect time to begin brainstorming with your students and fellow teachers about your entry. Involving the whole school community is the best way to build excitement and make sure the projects are integrated into your curriculum. To help you get started, free entry kits can be downloaded or you can also request for one to be mailed to you.

We hope that you will consider participating in the 2017 Carton 2 Garden Contest. I can’t wait to see this year’s entries!



One Comment

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