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Schoolyard Habitat

Learn more about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat program in this short video.

Benefits of the Schoolyard Habitat Program

Improved Habitat
Schoolyard habitat projects provide habitat for local and migratory wildlife including songbirds, shorebirds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. In many cases, these habitats also provide a vegetative buffer to nearby streams, reducing pollution reaching these waterways.

Teaching and Learning
Schoolyard habitats offer many teaching and learning opportunities in English, science, mathematics, history, geography, social studies and art. The process of planning, creating and using a habitat provides children with unique hands-on experiences. Research shows that using the environment as a focal point of teaching improves student performance.

During the formative years of life, students develop perceptions and values about their environment. If designed and managed properly, schoolyards can provide students a powerful example of land stewardship. Conversely, it is less likely that students will develop a sense of stewardship if attending a barren, poorly managed schoolyard.

Social Development
Experts know that young children are driven to explore, discover and play while refining motor skills. A well-designed schoolyard including a diversity of natural areas, allows students to exercise these innate needs leading to a happier and more fulfilled childhood. Older students and adults also benefit. Research shows that most people are more relaxed in a natural landscape.

Case Study: Joseph Charter School - Portland, OR

photo of kids working together on a schoolyard habitat project

On a chilly afternoon in April, 20 students and 10 adult volunteers gathered at the "Magic Garden" space in the schoolyard of Joseph Charter School to participate in an "After School Garden Work Party." The group's task was to clean up and prep the vegetable garden for spring planting and to develop a new pollinator garden.

Students and volunteers braved windy conditions and cold temperatures with big smiles, shovels, and rakes, as they weeded, tilled, and removed dead vegetation. The Magic Garden Project provided water, snacks, and craft activities. The students accomplished an amazing amount of work and succeeded in getting outside, being active, and having fun working in their school garden!

photo of kids working together on a schoolyard habitat project

The Schoolyard Habitat and Outdoor Classroom program helps teachers, students, parents, and the local community create wildlife habitat on school grounds, while getting students outside having fun learning.

There are several components to this Schoolyard Habitat/Outdoor Classroom Program currently being developed at Joseph Charter School including: pollinator garden planting and curriculum, bluebird habitat monitoring, and other habitat enhancement/outdoor learning activities.

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