Community

Cougar Creek Elementary gets free greenhouse, $1,000

Cougar Creek Elementary teacher Elizabeth Zylstra, back left, and students Alex Williams and Emma Seth, front left and front right, receive a check for $1,000 from Karen Bonaudi of the Washington State Potato Commission, back left, on April 12. - Kirk Boxleitner
Cougar Creek Elementary teacher Elizabeth Zylstra, back left, and students Alex Williams and Emma Seth, front left and front right, receive a check for $1,000 from Karen Bonaudi of the Washington State Potato Commission, back left, on April 12.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

LAKEWOOD — Students at Cougar Creek Elementary will be getting hands-on lessons on growing potatoes and other plants thanks to donations from the Washington State Potato Commission.

On April 12, Cougar Creek Elementary teacher Elizabeth Zylstra received an oversized check for $1,000 from Karen Bonaudi of the Washington State Potato Commission, which will go toward supplies for the free greenhouse that the commission will also be awarding to the school.

Zylstra explained to the school’s students at that day’s assembly that she’d entered the commission’s “Kids Are Growing” competition, which dispensed free greenhouses to 10 schools across the state this year, including Cougar Creek Elementary.

“That way we can start our plants earlier, because greenhouses protect plants from cold and rainy weather, and let in lots of light to keep the plants warm with solar heat,” Zylstra said. “You’ll be receiving potato recipes and coloring books from the Washington State Potato Commission.”

Tim’s Cascade Snacks, KOMO TV and Fisher Radio partnered with the commission for this year’s program, which included judging the entries on originality, creativity and what the new greenhouses would do for their schools. Each school was further required to submit a potato recipe.

Bonaudi elaborated that GreenhouseMegastore.com has donated 50 greenhouses since 2004, and added that the commission would also be supplying Cougar Creek Elementary with potato chip science kits and washable potato tattoos.

“If you were to win a car, it wouldn’t do you any good if you didn’t have any money to fill your tank with gas,” Bonaudi said. “That’s why we’re giving you this check, to fill your greenhouse with water and soil and flower beds and vegetable gardens.”

Bonaudi pointed out that potatoes are rich in calcium, potassium and Vitamin C, even though more people associate the latter with oranges.

“How many of you think potatoes grow on trees?” Bonaudi asked. When she saw a few raised hands, she said, “Some grown-ups think that too. Your job will be to educate them using what you learn here.”

The $1,000 grant may also be applied toward personnel or upgrading the greenhouse to a larger model. Cougar Creek Elementary will additionally receive certified potato seed from Marlys Bedlington of Pure Potato in Lynden, Wash.

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