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VENTURA FWO: Students at Ventura County School Plant Schoolyard Habitat to Attract Pollinators and Native Wildlife
California-Nevada Offices , June 21, 2010
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A student from Earth Magnet School in Newbury Park, Calif. helps plant a schoolyard habitat garden at the school. (photo: Kate Eschelbach, USFWS)
A student from Earth Magnet School in Newbury Park, Calif. helps plant a schoolyard habitat garden at the school. (photo: Kate Eschelbach, USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Credit: Kate Eschelbach Native plants are all lined up and ready to be planted at the Earth Magnet School. (photo: Kate Eschelbach, USFWS)
Credit: Kate Eschelbach Native plants are all lined up and ready to be planted at the Earth Magnet School. (photo: Kate Eschelbach, USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Kate Eschelbach and Michael Glenn of the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office survey the completed Schoolyard Habitat garden at Earth Magnet School. (photo: Lois Grunwald, USFWS)
Kate Eschelbach and Michael Glenn of the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office survey the completed Schoolyard Habitat garden at Earth Magnet School. (photo: Lois Grunwald, USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Lois Grunwald, Ventura FWO
The spades and shovels were all lined up and the buckets of native plants and shrubs laid out in hopscotch rows over the barren ground. Children assembled for their assignments behind signs that read: “Woodland Flat” and “Coastal Plants.”

A short while later, the 2nd and 5th graders at Earth Magnet School in Newbury Park, Calif., had transformed a former grassy field of their schoolyard into a budding native plant habitat, complete with a winding stream channel spanned by a small wooden bridge.  The habitat features plants that were used by the native Chumash people.

The habitat is divided into areas representing regions of California, including desert, mountain, valley, and coastal regions.

To draw in wildlife, Earth Magnet School provided brush piles, stumps and rocks, bird boxes, bat houses, native bee habitats, and built the small water course, which receives storm water from a nearby playground. Aside from pollinators such as native bees, wasps, and Monarch butterflies, the garden will attract California towhees, black phoebes, white-crowned sparrows, and American robins.

“It was impressive how much initiative and preplanning the school had undertaken to create the schoolyard habitat,” said Kate Eschelbach, the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office’s Education and Outreach Specialist. “A major focus of this project was to attract wildlife and the native plant habitat will accomplish that.” 

“We’re ecstatic that this is our first Schoolyard Habitat Project for the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office,” added Eschelbach.

In May 2009, Earth Magnet School received a nearly $8,000 grant for the project through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Schoolyard Habitat Program. Partners with the FWS on the project included the National Resource Conservation Service, the National Park Service (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area), Conejo Valley Unified School District, and the Center for Land Based Learning.

The FWS’ definition of a “Schoolyard Habitat” is a naturalized habitat area that is created by students, for students. It is ecologically sound, integrated into the curriculum and designed to encourage long-term stewardship. Typical projects created through this program include: wetlands, meadows, and forests.

For more information about the Schoolyard Habitat Program, go to http://www.fws.gov/cno/conservation/schoolyard.cfm.


Contact Info: Lois Grunwald, , lois_grunwald@fws.gov
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