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Planting for profit

Sequoia students earn money, experience with business

Posted: April 6, 2009 1:58 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Joe Madge, 18, and Cody Israelow, 18, water some of the 66 plants they care for as part of the student business called "The Planting Samurai" at Sequoia Charter School.

 

A plant-rental business started by 10 Sequoia Charter School students for their economics class has earned them $300 and a hands-on lesson in starting a business.

"Our kids just do better if they get to experience it," economics teacher Pat Hibbert said Friday.

Customers rent a plant from The Planting Samurai for $1 a week. The students maintain the plants by visiting the office twice a week to water and care for it. If a plant begins to wither, team members will take it back to their campus to replant or fertilize it while leaving a replacement plant for the client.

The company name stems from Sequoia's new mascot, the samurai, which the students selected this year, Hibbert said. The previous school mascot was a tree.

The business, a first for the school, was started in January as a classroom assignment.

"It's an example of how economics works," Hibbert said.

The students have made a $300 profit and have rented out 66 plants so far. Hibbert expects the profit to reach $600 by the end of the semester when the business ends.

A chunk of the money will be spent on a peace garden that will sit next to a bench on campus where students gather, she said.

The rest of the money will be spent on something the students decide, she said.

Along with nurturing the plants, the students keep track of the money and conduct customer satisfaction surveys.

"They're doing really well," Hibbert said.

Students are assigned a job, ranging from watering the plants to keeping track of invoices.

Sequoia student Joe Madge has learned teamwork skills since starting the business and taking on the role of financial assistant.
"You need to work with each other," he said.

Visiting his customers at the district office taught him the importance of being professional.

"I've learned to be a lot more mature with my actions," he said.

The Planting Samurai has left its mark on the Sequoia campus as small plants dot the planters outside the school's portable classrooms, but the students' best client so far is their next door neighbor: The William S. Hart Union High School District.

Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett keeps a plant from The Planting Samurai on her window at work and got a visit from the students on Friday.

"Today they watered and fertilized it," she said.

Willett said the students will even rotate the plant to make sure it gets enough sunlight.

"It's really neat to see them taking the responsibility and continuing to follow through with this," Willett said.

The hands-on business approach will hopefully leave a lasting impression beyond the semester.

"I think it means a lot more to them when they realize there are practical applications to what they learn in their textbook," she said.

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