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Schoolyard Habitat and Outdoor Classrooms


School grounds can be a place of inquiry, discovery and imagination for children. The Schoolyard Habitat Program connects kids with nature by helping teachers and students create native wildlife habitat on their school grounds.

Schoolyard Habitat projects give every student a chance to observe, learn from, and experience nature. This enhances their connection to the outdoors, reducing the effects of "nature deficit disorder." Projects use experiential, hands-on approaches to learning. These types of skills foster cooperation and increase problem-solving abilities, and are particularly important for special needs students.

  • Stewardship through Action

    Photo of kids planting

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Schoolyard Habitat program allows teachers and school children to build habitat for wildlife, and in doing so, learn about the outdoors through interdisciplinary learning in a broad context involving math, reading and writing skills, and science among others. The process of planning, creating, and using a schoolyard habitat exposes children to unique hands-on experiences. 

    View this video to see to see one school's successful project in action.

  • How It Works

    Cover photo of Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide

    The Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide was developed to provide the basic steps needed to restore or create wildlife habitat. It is designed so that students complete several tasks that will lead to establishing a forest, meadow or wetland on school grounds. Projects can range in size from a small 20’ by 20’ area to an acre or more. The process incorporates critical thinking and decision-making skills while challenging students in reading, writing, science, mathematics and language arts.

  • Benefits of Schoolyard Habitats

    Photo of girl smelling flowers

    Habitat is the collective term for the food, water, shelter and nursery areas that all wildlife needs to survive, and the loss of habitat is one of the greatest threats facing wildlife today. The Schoolyard Habitat program helps teachers and students create wildlife habitat on school grounds. This program:
    •Inspires students to become engaged and motivated to learn 
    •Provides a safe and fun learning environment 
    •Creates critical habitat for native plants and local wildlife
    • Helps establish a long-term stewardship ethic

    Watch an urban Schoolyard Habitat in Action: 

  • Getting Started

    Photo of kids planting

    The first step in creating a successful Schoolyard Habitat is to put together a team that includes students, teachers, parents, school staff and community members. This is a how-to guide. It will take you and your students through each step of the process: planning, installing and sustaining a project. This is not a book about why schoolyard projects are important; this is a guide about how to make the best one for your site. Download a copy of the Schoolyard Habitat Guidebook


  • Schoolyard Habitats in Our Community

    Photo collage of Joseph Charter School Pollinator Garden

    We work with schools all around the state of Oregon to help develop and implement schoolyard habitat programs. A great example is the "Pollinator Garden" created by the Joseph Charter School in Joseph, Oregon. 

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