With grocery prices climbing, new ways in which we conserve and consume food are helpful when it comes to keeping the cost down – like growing vegetables. Healthy, cost-effective, and versatile, vegetables are a source that offer plenty of benefits and solutions.

Nicole McCluskey, educator at Southwest Legacy High School, believed this to be a sustainable method – one in which her students could learn from and then use that valuable knowledge outside of the classroom as they would in the classroom. Thanks to Power of the Dollar® members, she was awarded a $1,000 grant in December 2022 for her “Grow for Change” project, and she then turned her vision into a reality by using the funds toward an educational hydroponic garden tower!

hydroponic garden tower

The hydroponic garden tower

“It’s basically a grow tower where it grows its own food,” said McCluskey. “We’re then able to use that food into our culinary class that will allow our students to learn about the sustainability … another way for them to basically produce food for their family.”

Standing over five-feet tall and fostering an array of vegetables, the hydroponic indoor garden system has blossomed into a mainstay in McCluskey’s kitchen classroom and has educated her students on how to nurse the plants, work up recipes, and soon harvest, which will be the culmination of all their hard work. The project has not only inspired her students, but it has also made an impact with other classes wanting to join in on the learning experience as well!

“We’re able to use it to connect to other classes like science and a couple other clubs that are wanting to do this,” she said. “Some of the kids have named some of the plants so it kind of gives them ownership and responsibility on it!”

Looking to help local schools, invest in your community, and support educators like Nicole McCluskey? Make a tangible, positive impact by joining the collective giving of our Power of the Dollar® membership. Learn more at www.firstmarkcu.org/checking, and together, we can create pathways that lead to better lives and stronger communities.