Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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CARLSBAD FWO: Schoolyard Habitat Program Teamed With Partners To Host 'Creating Wildlife Habitat on School Grounds' Workshop
California-Nevada Offices , October 23, 2010
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Carolyn Martus explains notable features to workshop participants. (USFWS/Betty Grizzle)
Carolyn Martus explains notable features to workshop participants. (USFWS/Betty Grizzle) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Carolyn Martus and Stephanie Weagley, Carlsbad FWO

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (CFWO) Schoolyard Habitat Program collaborated with the Los Angeles San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council (LASGRWC) to bring a one day workshop to teachers, administrators, school facility, and parents to learn about starting and maintaining a schoolyard habitat designed to help students connect with their natural world in October 2010.

Hosted by the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles, California, the pilot workshop, “Starting and Sustaining a Schoolyard Habitat with California Native Plants”, introduced participants to the Service’s Schoolyard Habitat Program as well as to other local organizational resources and personnel.

This unique program is designed to fill a specific niche and achieve the mission and goals of the school, the Service, and the community. “It is an opportunity for the Service to get students outside interacting with native plants and animals and working towards conserving wildlife and their habitats,” said Carolyn Martus, Schoolyard Habitat Program Coordinator for CFWO. “These project areas can provide habitat for local and migratory wildlife including birds, insects, amphibians and more. A well-designed schoolyard habitat should benefit both wildlife and humans.”

In order for a project to be a success, it requires a dedicated and unified team to help ensure the project is created with full participation and a strong foundation to support the school's needs for sustainability.

A Schoolyard Habitat project is an area created by students, for students and generally built on school grounds using California native plants. It is a science-based nature project that can be integrated into a school’s curriculum offering many teaching and learning opportunities in the areas of English, science, math, history, geography, social studies and art. 

“The workshop presented activities showing how to engage students with habitats,” Martus said. “For example, the ‘Botany Bouquet’ activity, which introduces various plant species from the same or different ecosystems, will help students understand the scientific naming process and encourage observational, organizational, and taxonomic skills.”

Presenters at the workshop consisted of native plant experts, schoolyard habitat project managers, and environmental educators. They included:  Carolyn Martus, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat Program; Jeff Chapman, Executive Director, Audubon Center at Debs Park; Linda Eremita, Forestry Education Manager, TreePeople; and Lisa Novick, Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator, Theodore Payne Foundation (TPF).

Also present at the workshop were a panel of various organizations consisting of urban forestry and landscape design resources. The representation included:  CFWO, LASGRWC, Audubon Center at Deb’s Park, TreePeople, Los Angeles United School District, California Regional Environmental Education Community, California Native Plant Society, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and Prisk Botanic Garden located at Prisk Elementary School in Long Beach, California.

Each participant received a variety of handouts on schoolyard habitats, native plant and wildlife lists, and environmental education resources; participating schools additionally received the Care and Maintenance of Southern California Native Plant Gardens manual.

The Service would like to thank all the partners who made this workshop possible. A special thank you goes to Eileen Alduenda, Seminar Coordinator for LASGRWC, who helped the CFWO develop, coordinate, and facilitate this successful event.


Contact Info: Stephanie Weagley, 805-644-1766, stephanie_weagley@fws.gov
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