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Evergreen Packaging, KidsGardening.org Name Winners of Carton 2 Garden Contest

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Evergreen Packaging, Memphis, Tenn., USA, this week announced winners of the second annual Carton 2 Garden™ contest. The competition gives students across the country a hands-on experience in repurposing empty milk and juice cartons to build or enhance their school gardens. Along with teaching students about healthy eating and the eco-friendly benefits of cartons, this project promotes life skills such as creativity, leadership, and teamwork. This year's Carton 2 Garden winner categories include a $5,000 grand prize, three $2,500 specialty prizes, and 10 $1,000 grade level prizes. 

The three specialty prize winners are awarded for their efforts in the following areas: STEM, the best use of science, technology, engineering, and math lessons in their project; Sustainability, the best demonstration of sustainable practices in their garden creation; and Community Involvement, the best engagement of groups outside of the school. Overall, the contest awarded prizes valued at $22,500 to 14 winning schools around the country. 

The grand prize and specialty prize winners of the contest are as follows:
  • Grand Prize Winner – Champion Theme Middle School (Stone Mountain, Ga.)—The grand prize entry was comprised of multiple mini projects designed to educate students on environmental stewardship. The whole school—students, teachers, custodians, and cafeteria staff--plus community members and families came together to make a difference not only in the school garden but also at the community food pantry garden where the students donated cartons with seeds and created bird feeders.
  • STEM Winner- Kumeyaay Elementary School (San Diego, Calif.)–-Students were inspired by California's ongoing drought conditions to learn how they could grow organic food using as little water as possible. This impressive garden was comprised of multiple sections spread across the campus, including a reading garden, native habitat, relaxation labyrinth, ceremonial rock garden, flower areas, and vegetable beds in which the students raise produce for their cafeteria salad bar. Students learned about photosynthesis, engineering and construction, and budgeting, among other topics, throughout the project
  • Sustainability Winner – Davis Bilingual Magnet School (Tucson, Ariz,).—Students repurposed hundreds of milk cartons to create a greenhouse designed to help them gain a better understanding of their desert environment. They used their imaginations and creativity to explore ways that recycled materials could be used to create art. And when repurposing cartons, all scraps were utilized emphasizing the importance of not wasting anything. 
  • Community Involvement Winner – Tamaques Elementary School (Westfield, N.J.)—This entry grew out of the students' desire to spread hope and kindness. Students were inspired to create a butterfly garden after learning that butterflies are often used as a symbol to honor children lost in the Holocaust. They researched the flowers and herbs needed to host butterflies and planted them in milk cartons decorated with kind words. The students were further inspired by a visit from a Holocaust survivor who shared her story of hope and kindness. 
"This year's Carton 2 Garden Contest offered thousands of students across the country an opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience while developing key insights into their impact on the environment," said Katie Simmons, marketing manager for Evergreen Packaging. "It was incredibly rewarding to see these students learn throughout the process of building their carton gardens—embracing recycling, healthy eating, and community involvement as they created their entries."

Nearly 130 schools across the country submitted entries to be judged on specific criteria, such as adherence to contest rules, creativity, use of sustainable materials, and visual representation. Classroom groups were required to collect at least 100 cartons of any size, including cartons from the school cafeteria or from home. Materials other than cartons were allowed in the creations, but renewable, natural materials were strongly suggested. All entries were judged by a panel consisting of representatives from KidsGardening.org.

"We love working with Evergreen Packaging on the Carton 2 Garden Contest because it's about unleashing kids creativity to be actively involved in learning about science, math, community, gardening, and themselves," said Amanda Slater, interim executive director of KidsGardening.org. "It's always so difficult to choose a winner as all of the projects are successful, and we salute all of the participants who worked so hard on their creations."  

The next Carton 2 Garden contest will take place in spring 2017. More information about the contest and other ways Evergreen Packaging is promoting eco-friendly habits to school-age children is available online. 


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