Why are schoolyard habitats important?
Schoolyard habitats not only benefit wildlife, they also get children in touch with nature. It has been recognized nationwide that getting children outside and reconnected with the natural environment is an essential step in their development. Kids who are given the opportunity to explore nature are more willing to experience new things. This program provides an interactive opportunity to teach children about nature and how they can help take care of it. In addition, students who spend a portion of the day outside tend to have longer attention spans, which can translate into learning more effectively and doing better in school.
What do we do?
The Schoolyard Habitat Program works with the school and partner organizations to design and establish natural habitats on school grounds throughout western New York using native plants to benefit wildlife. These habitats can be pollinator gardens, bird gardens, forests, rain gardens, ponds, or meadows. In the creation of the habitats, we use all native plantings. Habitat type is dependent on soil type, shade, location, space, and the needs of the school. They are designed to not only provide food and refuge for wildlife, but to serve as a place of learning for children. To facilitate that learning, we help teachers find ways to utilize the habitat so that it fits in with their curriculum. We work with teachers of the arts and sciences in primary and secondary schools.
Schools are not required to provide funding for these projects. However, any match they would like to contribute is welcomed. There are grants available to the schools and we are willing to assist teachers and parent organizations in the draft of their grant proposals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot apply for the majority of these grants.
For more information, contact:
Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1101 Casey Road
Basom, NY 14013