On the Wild Side!
E-Newsletter for the Chesapeake Bay Field Office


Students from Hillsmere Elementary know their watershed address. USFWS photo.
Students from Hillsmere elementary school stand by a storm drain labeled "South River Drainage". USFWS photo.

Connecting Students To Nature With Schoolyard Habitats

Chesapeake Bay Field Office (CBFO) biologist Janet Norman organized structured chaos of 400 Hillsmere Elementary students planting and landscaping their schoolyard for Earth Week. Over 370 native perennials, shrubs, and trees, and hardy annuals were added to diversify the schoolyard habitat and bring pollinators closer to students.

Plants were obtained using funds from the Hillsmere Parent-Teacher Association and a grant from the Unity Gardens foundation. Technical assistance from Ms. Norman was used as an in-kind match to help obtain the grant. Ms. Norman used the office's publication “Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping” to select plants according to site conditions on the schoolyard. CBFO even donated excess black-eyed Susan plants from the office's BayScape garden to help ensure every child was involved in planting.

In addition, Ms. Norman provided a watershed lesson to 4th graders who then inspected their storm drains and stenciled “South River Drainage” on the pavement, so other students would learn their watershed address. Students searched for oak seedlings growing too close to the building, and transplanted them to extend the forested buffer around their wetland. Students, teachers and parent volunteers enjoyed learning outdoors and felt proud of their accomplishments by enhancing their schoolyard habitat.

A before photo of the school's entry which is planted with invasive engllish ivy. Janet Norman photo. Children replace ivy with native perennials. Janet Norman, USFWS
Before, a spot next to the school's entrance was filled with invasive english ivy. Janet Norman, USFWS Children replace ivy with native perennials. Janet Norman, USFWS

For more information contact:
Janet Norman


Last updated: September 22, 2009