SMART kids

Gov. gives students Saving Money and School Resources Today award
Liz Kearney
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Enterprise photo by Nate Howard

Gov. Steve Bullock meets with Sleeping Giant Middle School students, from left, Elizabeth Everson, 13, Claire Kellett, 13, Ellianna Wester, 12, and Haley Rigler, 12, in the aquaponics addition of David Pettit’s science classroom on Monday. Bullock presented Park High School and SGMS with the SMART Green Challenge Award during a joint school assembly for their work to promote more environmentally friendly practices as part of the SMART Schools Challenge.

Gov. Steve Bullock came to Livingston Monday to congratulate Park High School and Sleeping Giant Middle School for placing among two of 13 winning Montana schools in the annual SMART Schools Challenge.

SMART stands for “Saving Money and School Resources Today.”

Through these challenges, schools found ways to improve energy efficiency, promote healthy and environmentally sound practices, and reduce waste by implementing or expanding programs in their schools, a news release from the governor’s office said.

Bullock made his first stop at SGMS, where students and their science teacher, David Pettit, provided a tour of the aquaponics system that resides adjacent to Pettit’s classroom.

Aqua- and hydroponic systems grow food with plants with little or no soil, using water that is pumped through a closed system, often fueled by solar power. The system grows food and raises fish, students explained to the governor.

“This is very cool,” Bullock told the students.

Pettit’s students were also excited to show off a new school project — a pig.

The Lazy SR Ranch in Shields Valley recently donated a pig to the school, Joe Beeson, the ranch manager, said Monday. The pig will remain at the ranch, but the school will contribute its cafeteria food waste to feed it. There is about 30 pounds of food waste per day at the school, Pettit said.

The food will be supplemented by regular pig feed, Beeson said.

Then in October, the pig will be auctioned and the proceeds will go to the school’s activities fund.

Pettit, joking that he was always looking for a way to raise funds for school projects, said there was a $1 name-thepig raffle in progress. Anyone could pay a dollar and submit a name for the pig.

Tuesday morning, Pettit announced via email that the winning name is “Miss Lulu.” Raffle ticket sales raised about $200, he said Monday.

Beeson brought in two piglets Monday to demonstrate the program, but emphasized neither was the actual pig, which is several weeks older than the two demo piglets.

“Stand-in pigs,” Bullock joked.

Park High School senior August Schuerr was on hand at SGMS. Schuerr recently built a vertical hydroponic growing platform for the PHS greenhouse. He said leafy greens do well in hydroponic systems, and he hopes to plant the herb basil soon.

Bullock toured the PHS greenhouse after his SGMS tour.