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Connecting Kids with Nature – Chesapeake BayField Officeand Girl Scouts Create Schoolyard Habitat
Northeast Region, August 7, 2009
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Area before planting, Janet Norman USFWS
Area before planting, Janet Norman USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Area after planting, Janet Norman USFWS
Area after planting, Janet Norman USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Goldfinch visitng the schoolyard habitat, Janet Norman USFWS
Goldfinch visitng the schoolyard habitat, Janet Norman USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Butterfly visiting the schoolyard habitat, Janet Norman USFWS
Butterfly visiting the schoolyard habitat, Janet Norman USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

Chesapeake Bay Field Office teamed up with Girl Scout Troop 2371 and Hillsmere PTA to create a schoolyard habitat at Hillsmere Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, MD. A new school sign left a barren area ripe for landscaping with native plants.

 

CBFO biologist Janet Norman provided the scouts with copies of CBFO's guide "Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, and instructed them how to use it. She also assisted the girl scouts in collecting soil samples and discussed the results with them.

 

The girls researched what Maryland native plants would do well in the conditions at their site. Working with Karen Kelly-Mullin, a Schoolyard Habitat Specialist with Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE), the layout design and plant selection were revised, considering flowering times, hardiness, soil suitability, human toxicity and other factors. They also chose plants that would not block the sign when fully grown and would flower or had wildlife berries while school is in session.

 

Scouts, PTA members, school staff and parents came together to prepare the soil, dig holes, plant the new landscape and water it throughout the summer. A local nursery provided the plants at wholesale pricing. Partners included Unity Gardens, MAEOE, the PTA and the Girl Scouts.

 

Already the native landscaping has attracted dragonflies, butterflies and goldfinches. A bird's nest has been spotted, at kids' eye-level, in one of the new native holly trees. Purple dome asters and white heath asters are just starting to bloom. The area can be used for lessons in ecology and other subjects.

 

The project has received lots of attention due to the school's high visibility on a major road. The Hillsmere Elementary School landscape team is planning more native plantings this fall.

 

For more information contact:

Janet Norman

410/573-4533

janet_norman@fws.gov


Contact Info: Kathryn Reshetiloff, 410-573-4582, kathryn_reshetiloff@fws.gov



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