Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region

Schoolyard Habitat: Stewardship through Action

The Schoolyard Habitat program helps teachers and students create wildlife habitat on school grounds. Habitat is the collective term for the food, water, shelter and nursery areas that all wildlife needs to survive. The loss of habitat is one of the greatest threats facing wildlife today.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides and coordinates with other agencies to give technical assistance and project guidance; provides teacher training; develops written resources; and works with the state Departments of Education on incorporating habitat issues into new school construction and renovation projects.

Benefits of the Schoolyard Habitat program include:

  • Improved habitat: Schoolyard habitat projects provide habitat for local and migratory wildlife including songbirds, shorebirds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. In many cases, these habitats also provide a vegetative buffer to nearby streams, reducing pollution reaching these waterways.
  • Teaching and learning: Schoolyard habitats offer many teaching and learning opportunities in English, science, mathematics, history, geography, social studies and art. The process of planning, creating and using a habitat provides children with unique hands-on experiences. Research shows that using the environment as a focal point of teaching improves student performance.
  • Stewardship: During the formative years of life, students develop perceptions and values about their environment. If designed and managed properly, schoolyards can provide students a powerful example of land stewardship. Conversely, it is less likely that students will develop a sense of stewardship if attending a barren, poorly managed schoolyard.
  • Social development: Experts know that young children are driven to explore, discover and play while refining motor skills. A well-designed schoolyard including a diversity of natural areas, allows students to exercise these innate needs leading to a happier and more fulfilled childhood. Older students and adults also benefit. Research shows that most people are more relaxed in a natural landscape.
Link to the 2011 edition of Schoolyard Habitat Guiide pdf.

If you are interested in improving your schoolyard's habitat, contact Karen Kelly-Mullin, 410/573-4510, or you can download a copy of the Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide in .pdf format (8.4 megabytes).

You will need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader in order to view and print this document.

 

Zoologist-in-Training
Credit: Rich Mason, USFWS
By instilling knowledge and a sense of
stewardship now, the future of both people
and wildlife is looking brighter.
Ecologist-in-training
Credit: Rich Mason, USFWS
Management of our natural resources will one day be in
the hands of these students.

Assistance

Funding

Links

Resources

Habitat & Construction

Native Plants

Articles:
Creating a Tree
Nursery
[pdf]
Where the Wild
Things Are
[pdf]

Common Qualities of Excellent Schoolyard Habitats pdf

New! Common Qualities of Excellent Schoolyard Habitats

Toolkits

NWF letter

Last updated: October 28, 2013