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Founder of the Month: JR Pilyih of Regency Grows!

New month, new EdCorp Founder killin’ the game. In honor of Fail Forward February, we are thrilled to highlight JR Pilyih. His EdCorps has had some highs, lows, and a few fish funerals along the way – but they’ve pushed on! Regency Grows started as a business that would grow and sell tilapia and strawberries. After their strawberries were bite-sized and six of their nine tilapia died (one from trying to escape their tank!), student buckled down and pivoted to other products they could grow and sell easily (like strawberry starters for home gardens). Not every class can bounce back that easily, but with JR’s optimism and leadership, his students aren’t giving up! We’re thankful that JR is modeling what it looks like to fail forward and find joy in learning.

Name: JR Pilyih 

School: Regency Park Elementary 

Grades: 5th-6th Grade

About Regency Grows:

JR: Our indoor farming business is run by 5th and 6th graders using hydroponics and aquaponics. We started out with the big idea of selling strawberries and fish, but have transformed that idea into selling strawberry plants, lettuce, kale, basil, and parsley.  

Why did you want to start an EdCorp? 

JR: I wanted to start an EdCorp because it was completely different and outside the box of what we are used to doing in a public school.  There aren’t many opportunities for elementary students to not only start their own business but make their own money and give back to the community.  Such powerful stuff! 

What was the first semester of running an EdCorp like? 
JR: There were many highs and lows with the first semester along with many fails.  The idea we had at the beginning is completely different than where we are headed now.  It has been very time-consuming, but every second is worth it when you have students showing up for school early to be part of the business!
This year was a huge challenge because not only did we try to start the business, but we really started using aquaponics for the first time.  I’m so excited to see what happens with everything next year and will be ready to run the whole business within my classroom. 


Follow the Regency Grows journey at @RegencyGrowsCo and JR at @jrp170. Stay tuned throughout the month to learn more about creativity, aquaponics, and failing forward!