Kajal is the 15 year old daughter of Lisa Schiller, who recently joined IPPL’s Board of Directors. Her dog, Chewie, a Newfoundland, is best friends with IPPL’s Newfoundland, Blue.
This past year Kajal spent some time getting to know the gibbons at IPPL’s sanctuary when she visited with her mother. While volunteering to help prepare meals, she became curious about what the gibbons liked to eat and where their food came from.
Kajal has a Katie’s Krops garden at her home. As a result, she has learned about the benefits of home grown vegetables. Katie’s Krops was started in 2008 by local Summerville child, Katie Stagliano. Their mission is to empower youth to start and maintain vegetable gardens of all sizes and donate the harvest to help feed people in need, as well as to assist and inspire others to do the same.
Kajal’s own garden, grown in her family’s backyard, has been a learning experience for her. The vegetables they harvest are shared with a local food pantry to help those in need who live in their community.
One day, while listening in on a meeting her mother was attending, Kajal pulled her mother aside and whispered, There must be more we can do, you know, kids. Maybe we can help the gibbons somehow.
Kajal attends the Rollings School of the Arts where she is an Honors student and plays the cello. She immediately started to speak to teachers about how students could become more involved with the IPPL’s sanctuary. She also spoke with Katie’s parents, John and Stacy Stagliano, about creating a garden for the gibbons. Since they live close to IPPL, the Stagliano family visited the sanctuary to explore the possibilities of building a garden that would help sustain the sanctuary.
It’s important to give the gibbons fresh and high-quality food that you have some control over and that you can grow yourself. That way, you know it’s truly healthy for them, Kajal shared.
Kajal decided to apply for a small grant through the Jane Goodall Foundation’s Roots and Shoots program. Founded in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall, Roots & Shoots is a youth service program for young people of all ages. Their mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire everyone to take action to make the world a better place for people, other animals, and the environment.
The garden is already producing vegetables!
Kajal and her mother had met Jane Goodall in the past and were touched by the plight of endangered primates in the world. Jane had told Kajal about the Roots and Shoots program. Although Kajal was too young at the time to explore it, she knew this was the perfect time. So, this spring she designed a plan for raised garden beds to be constructed at the sanctuary and was awarded a grant!
With the help from volunteers from both Katie’s Krops (John Stagliano and Tobey Lima) and Pinewood Prep (Mike and Emma Maguire), the garden was built! Not only that, but John and Tobey arrived with special donation – a truck full of zucchini squash to kick off healthy eating for the gibbons!
Kajal had learned that the gibbons love sweet peppers and potatoes so she began by planting those and every week she stops by so she and her mother can keep tabs on how they’re growing. Kajal plans to continue planting on a seasonal basis and is looking forward to planting a watermelon field next summer.
From all of us at IPPL – especially our 36 gibbons – Thank you, Kajal!
Nicolas and Elsa watching their new garden grow!