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Students offer a unique solution to a local problem just in time for Christmas

Photo: Teacher Laura-Lyn Helton and her students make holiday wreaths using invasive plants from around their community. 

Laura-Lyn Helton’s Grade 6 class is offering up a unique solution to the problem of overgrown and invasive plants affecting Greater Victoria.

Just in time for the holiday rush, and with the help of some volunteers from their local GardenWorks garden store, her crafty students used the problematic plants to create beautiful holiday wreaths and sell them to members of their community.

Among the troublesome plants are English ivy which kills native trees and has become a major problem throughout Greater Victoria. Holly and Scottish Broom are also causing headaches as they compete with native plants.  By repurposing these plants to create something beautiful their customers can enjoy over the holidays, these Colquitz Middle School students are able to limit the plants’ ability to compete with native species while learning how to run a business. The key message to these young students when looking for a business idea is to identify a need or problem in their own community and come up with a solution.

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This is Laura-Lyn’s third year running JA’s Business of our Own program in her class, and she says financial literacy is her main goal. “We talk about target audience, costs, expenses and profits. Sarah and Heather from GardenWorks have been fantastic partners and a big help this year,” she adds. Volunteers from the local business community are a unique feature of JA programs because they are able to bring their real-world experiences into the classroom. In this case, the GardenWorks team was able to educate the students on the plants, show them how to create the beautiful wreaths and discuss the different aspects of running a business. “We were impressed that the Junior Achievement program was working practical knowledge into the classroom,” said GardenWorks volunteers, Sarah and Heather. “We hope the kids now have a better understanding of the many levels of a retail business but at the very least they now know how to make a professional wreath!”

The sale took place earlier in December and wreaths sold for $15 each. Proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase fruit trees for the school’s garden.

“Team work and problem-solving skills the students learn are important outcomes of this project,” says Laura-Lyn. “I love having real community business connections to partner with while educating kids about financial literacy.”