By Lorene Keitch

Pioneer Staff

Students in Mrs. Gauthiers grade 4/5 class are inviting the public to buy a plant and help a good cause.

The class has created a native plant business to raise funds for a Building Beginnings Microloan. The students chose native plants as a business idea because they liked how it will help the environment.

We looked at what native plants do and we learned about native plants, said student Owen Christy.

Student Kayla Wolfenden explained why native plants are important to our ecosystem.

If native plants stopped growing, the insects will probably go extinct and that would cause a major setback in our food chain, which would eventually lead to us, said Kayla.

The budding entrepreneurs learned a lot about native plants, and got to watch first-hand the benefit of composting. Since last year, J.A. Laird has been creating compost through lunch waste.

This is the first full year composting, explained teacher Allyssan Gauthier. At first they thought it was kind of cool, but now they see the value in it.

They have also learned about money and business management, with several students sharing how they had to spend a good deal of money to establish the business, and learn to work together.

It takes a lot of work and cooperation, said Rebecqa Clarke. We have to get things set up, get the soil, the seeds, plant them, water them.

The students are quite aware of the risk involved in starting a business, as summed up by Tyler Collis.

We have a budget with all our money, and we had to spend most of it to get it all started, said Tyler.

Students were split into teams to take on different responsibilities, including bookkeeping, merchandising, set up, promotions and public relations.

This learning fits within the Career Education branch of the revised B.C. curriculum, reported Mrs. Gauthier. In addition, weve been fortunate to work with Susan Clovechok, the executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Clovechok spent several sessions with the class to teach them some business basics.

We take them through a business plan, marketing, promotion, bookkeeping, how to sell, what the name should be, she listed.

Mrs. Clovechok says helping the students with projects like this is always fun and she sees how much they learn through it. She urges the public to come buy some native plants.

Theyre grown with love and enthusiasm, and the kids are learning. That to me is the best part, she remarked.

Over the past four years, Mrs. Gauthiers 4/5 class has raised more than $2,000 to support their Building Beginning Microloans program. Each years class creates the microloans with profits from their classroom businesses. Past years businesses have included making and selling art cards and calendars.

The first $1,000 Building Beginnings Microloan through the class fundraising project was given to Lydia Bujiju from Tanzania, Africa to assist in building a primary school. That microloan has now been paid back.

The second years loan recipient was Abel Carlos, chosen by this years class. Mr. Carlos used his loan to move from Venezuela to Spain to escape political instability and rising poverty, Mrs. Gauthier reports. He is now working full-time in a flower shop and sending money home to his family in Venezuela.

The students selected Mr. Carlos because they felt he was a worthy recipient of the loan.

Were doing this because were trying to help people, said Harley Murray.

The plant sale money will go to support a third applicant, to be chosen as soon as applicants come in. Mrs. Gauthier urges local applicants to come forward if they would like to be considered for a microloan.

Our original goal was to have a local support system, said Mrs. Gauthier. We would love to have some local applicants.

Native plants for sale include Brown Eyed Susans, Orange Arnica, Yarrow, Golden Aster, Wolf Willow and Wild Bergamot. Plants are $3.50 each or three for $10. They will be available Monday, June 19th until the end of June or until plants are all sold at Home Hardware.

Buyers can also pick up an order form at the front office at J.A. Laird and return it by Monday Monday, June 19th. Orders will be ready for pickup Wednesday June 21st.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about an application, please email Ms. Gauthier