April Magazines 2018 89014 - Page 59

Meet the Neighbor By Callie Thomas While MacQuarrie has traveled the world, he actu- ally grew up in Las Vegas and has made it his In addition to creating and tending to the gardens, the students learn valuable business skills by hold- ing farmer’s markets, both individually at their own schools as well as bi-yearly collaborative events that draw more than 300 students in atten- dance. “They say it takes a village–and it does–only I’d like to think of it more as a carnival of people, each utilizing their unique talents to play a very specific instrument. Being in Vegas, maybe it’s more like a Cirque du Soleil band,” MacQuarrie mused. Either way, he is eternally grateful to all the people that joined the Green Our Planet bandwagon. That includes the University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension; Rob Roy, founder and CEO of Switch, a powerhouse Las Vegas technolo- gies firm; John Guedry, CEO, and Chris Gaynor, VP and Relationship Manager at Bank of Nevada; Jeff Newburn, a quiet giant that took the time to build GoP’s website; and the Clark County School District teachers, among many others. The idea of Green Our Planet sprung from a 2010 trip to the Turkana Basin Institute in Northern Kenya. MacQuarrie, along with life partner Ciara Byrne, who is also a documentary filmmaker, were spending time with renowned paleoanthropologist and conservationist Dr. Richard Leakey. Leakey is famed for discovering the oldest known fossils of Homo sapiens and is credited with helping to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. One afternoon, Dr. Leaky asked the pair if there was a way to com- bine films, the internet, conservation and fundrais- ing all at the same time. A few weeks later, while riding in a jeep amid wildebeests in the Masai Mara, they came up with an idea to create a website that uses short videos and crowdfunding to raise money for green projects around the world. People could watch short educational films and donate to specific projects that interested them. “That was the beginning,” said MacQuarrie. “To get it off the ground we had to take baby steps. I’d read the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which is about getting your product out as quickly as pos- sible, and decided that we needed to start with a local project first.” home. The school garden program began in 2013 and has spread to more than 130 garden projects since its inception. The goal of the program is to help public and private schools raise funding and build outdoor vegetable gardens where Pre-K through 12th grade students are taught a variety of subjects, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), health and nutri- tion. The concept was to create a “turn-key” pro- gram that would empower teachers to easily start a garden regardless of their expertise in that area. A curriculum needed to be developed so that what would normally be taught inside the classroom is taught outside through the development of the school gardens. “We listen to teachers and the stu- dents very carefully,” says MacQuarrie. We hired teachers and farmers to assist in developing the curriculum.” W HILE TALKING WITH EMMY-WINNING documentary filmmaker, anthropologist and author Kim MacQuarrie about his passion project, Green Our Planet (GoP), one theme was resoundingly clear: MacQuarrie is a man of action. You don’t end up winning four Emmys, living with a tribe of indigenous Amazonians or authoring four books about the hidden regions of Peru just sitting on your laurels. You also don’t plant the seeds to devel