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Winners 2008
  
CABLE PARTNERSHIPS FOR LEARNING

GARY OLSEN
District Administrator
Dubuque Community Schools
Dubuque, Iowa
Cable System: Mediacom


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"Cable television, coupled with the Internet, provide the foundation for the "Classroom of the Future." It's a classroom without walls or desks. It is a virtual learning space in which the participants not only view interesting people, places and content, but share their own experiences and educational resources."

What started as an idea for a summer camp to teach elementary students about gardening turned into a reality television show that follows the fortunes, successes and mishaps experienced by students trying to grow their own food. District Administrator, Gary Olsen, created The Garden Organic, a cable television show developed in partnerships with Mediacom Cable, Hy-Vee Foods, Steve's Ace Home & Garden Center and the Iowa State University Extension Office. The show combines science, math, culture and the history of food along with basic food how-to's: growing, harvesting, preparing and preserving. Students are taped as they set out on their challenge to grow an organic garden with no artificial or non-organic pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. The series, now in its fourth year, is cablecast on Dubuque Community Schools' own full-time 24/7 cable channel provided by Mediacom Cable.

The show is very popular in the Dubuque community. Enthusiastic visitors come to the garden to observe production, parents help to encourage their kids during taping and garden hobbyists e-mail questions and suggested topics they think The Garden Organic should cover.

Olsen received the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Award of Excellence for a documentary he made after 9/11 and a Beacon Award for the school's cooking program, Kids in the Kitchen. That program also won Best Series from the Association of Cable Communicators in 2007.