A $50,000 grant from the Whittier private nonprofit organization BCM Foundation is supporting a PowerPLANT program at the Rancho Botanic Santa Ana Garden.

PowerPLANT is the garden's newest environmental education program, according to a garden release, that is expected to "broaden" kindergarten through 12th grades and community engagement in environmental issues in the region.

The PowerPLANTprogram is helping 12 teams from local schools to compete for cash prizes for their school and be highlighted as leaders for positive environmental change, according to the release.

Teams, which will have at least four students, include El Roble Intermediate School, Claremont High School, San Antonio High School and Western Christian Middle School.

Unconventional methods will be used in the PowerPLANT program, which involves a series of free public workshops to reach students, school administrators and teachers, according to the release.

The teams will spend the 2012-13 school year to critically evaluate and research environmental topics through "team-based multidisciplinary activities that promote environmental awareness, scholarship and stewardship," according to the release.

Initiatives range from helping personalize local environmental priorities to hosting Earth Day events.

PowerPLANT workshops:

- Get Sustainable!

Sustainable Claremont provides information from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 on local sustainability projects and how attendees can get involved.

- School Gardens

Attendees can learn from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Feb. 27 about the benefits of school gardens and how they can cultivate efforts at favorite schools.

- Botanical Research and Conservation 101

Attendees can see from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 19 how the botanic garden's botanical research and conservation efforts are vital in advancing knowledge of plants worldwide and protecting native plants.

- Earth Day Extravaganza

Attendees from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 2 can be selective with time learn about volunteering options at local Earth Day events.

- Environmental Action Showcase

Attendees, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18, can see the fruits of the powerPLANT projects.

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is at 1500 N. College Ave.

It's open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. except holidays with free parking.

Admission is free for RSABG members; $8 adults; $6 seniors and students; $4 for youths age 3 to 12.

For more information, contact 909-625-8767 or www.rsabg.org.

wes.woods@inlandnewspapers.com 909-483-8549 or http://www.insidesocal.com/claremontnow/ or on Twitter at @ClaremontNow