Seeding a Legacy: A Rotary After-Hours Success Story

In the heart of La Crosse, Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori buzzed with excitement as students, parents, and teachers, community members and RAHtarians for the grand opening of their new state-of-the-art greenhouse. The scent of freshly turned soil mingled with the rainy spring breeze, setting the stage for a momentous day.

Rotary After-Hours brought this innovative vision to life as part of our 2023 Shark Tank project. Through a collaborative effort, a large 'living classroom' greenhouse has been constructed, aiming to educate students about botany while providing families with fresh, nutrient-dense food. President Phil and Bradley (Burke) pitched this inspiring project during the 2023 Shark Tank event, where it received the most votes in a highly competitive field. The project was awarded $5,000 from RAH and received a matching grant from District 6250, totaling $10,000 for the greenhouse's purchase.

Construction began on March 23rd and continued on April 6th and 20th during Club Build Days. The completed greenhouse will provide over 400 students and families each year with access to environmental, ecological, and sustainable gardening education. Students will engage in experiential cooking classes, learn composting techniques, and gain business and marketing skills through plant sales. "Everyone has a role in the greenhouse," said teacher Mariah Bigelow.

The smiles on the children's faces, and even the teachers, have made the hard work worthwhile. As the children huddled together, holding brightly colored scissors, they beamed with anticipation. With a collective snip, the vibrant green ribbon fluttered to the ground, and the greenhouse door swung open, revealing a lush, green oasis inside. Rows of budding plants, from tomatoes to marigolds, stood proudly in their pots, tended by Northside's young gardeners. They darted into the greenhouse, eager to show off their hard work, while parents followed, admiring the children's efforts.
🌿🌼 "I was super happy. I really was like oh my gosh we're going to have a greenhouse! That was really amazing news. All of the greenhouse is really fun. Plants in general are just amazing and planting all these plants and stuff has been the best part of school probably." -Phoenix, 4th Grader & Greenhouse 'Manager' 🪴

The greenhouse stands as a symbol of what can be achieved through collaboration and a shared vision. It isn't just a building; it is a testament to the power of Rotary and the community, and to the bright future of these young students. Indeed, it was a day at Northside Elementary that will be remembered for years to come.
Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to making this living classroom possible. Together, we are truly creating hope in the world, one seed at a time.