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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

NEVADA FWO: Earth Partnership for Schools, USFWS Schoolyard Restoration Training, Building wildlife habitat at your schoolyard

Region 8, April 18, 2011
Janie Lampron, a teacher at Ober Elementary in Summerlin, is planting a native Mojave plant in a raised bed for a pollinator garden.  Ober Elementary has been funded for a  project and is in the planning process. (USFWS Photo/ Michelle Hunt)
Janie Lampron, a teacher at Ober Elementary in Summerlin, is planting a native Mojave plant in a raised bed for a pollinator garden.  Ober Elementary has been funded for a  project and is in the planning process. (USFWS Photo/ Michelle Hunt) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Michelle Hunt

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), SNAP (Southern Nevada Agency Partnership), Clark County Schools, and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension hosted the inaugural Earth Partnerships for Schools restoration training from March 12th-April 9th.  The five-Saturday course, along with internet-based training, allowed teachers from the Clark County school district to become familiar with the Earth Partnerships for School Restoration Model and the USFWS Schoolyard Habitat Program.  The goal of the training was to train teachers to take this knowledge back to their schools and students and then create schoolyard habitat projects on their school grounds. 


Here is what one of the teachers had to say about the course:  “I plan on using what I have learned in class to increase my students' understanding of the importance of conserving the natural environment.  I was really struck by the information we learned about the decrease in pollinators, specifically bees, in our valley.  I also never had even thought about how "clean" energy affects the natural landscape along with the plants and animals that call the Mojave desert home.  I feel a real urgency to teach my students how to be earth-friendly and how WE are the visitors to this desert.  Having grown up here, I have always thought the desert had its own kind of beauty, and I hope I can show my students the value that it does have.”

Earth Partnerships for Schools (EPS) started in 1991 as an outgrowth of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum's focus on ecological restoration as a way of establishing a positive relationship between people and the land.  EPS encourages teachers to establish restoration projects on school sites and provides the curriculum that incorporates restoration project planning and implementation into almost any subject area.  Thus, EPS is a natural partner for the USFWS Schoolyard Habitat Program which assists schools in the planning, design and implementation of restoration projects with students and teachers.

In the summer of 2010, Michelle Hunt, USFWS Schoolyard Habitat Coordinator for Nevada, as well as 8 teachers and partners from southern Nevada attended a two-week train the trainer EPS institute in Wisconsin to become facilitators for the EPS program.   These trained facilitators then came back to Nevada and developed a regional-specific program for Mojave desert restoration.  Twenty-one teachers from 13 local schools attended this inaugural training. Additionally, four teachers and partners attended the Wisconsin training from northern Nevada, and have planned an EPS training there this May that will focus on Great Basin and Sierra Nevada restorations. Teachers in both locations have shown excitement and interest by filling up the registration slots.

It is the hope that each teacher that attends a training will return to their school and together with their students, create a Schoolyard Habitat project on school grounds that they can use for years to come. By having students transform school landscapes into natural habitats, their studies of science, math and related subjects will be enhanced by experiencing “hands-on” learning.  In addition, the student-driven projects are ecologically sound, enhancing the wildlife habitat and aesthetics of their campuses. Typical projects created through this program include: wetlands, meadows, forests and variations among them based on specific ecoregions. Many projects are planned through multiple phases and become more dynamic over time as children from various classes build upon the existing work of past students.
 

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov