U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

Schoolyard Habitat Program

Program Introduction

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

SYH 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 a hands-on approach to learning, which could be particularly important for special needs students.

Teachers use SYH projects to provide learning experiences that align with Federal and state education goals and mandates, and as an integrating context for improving skills in core curriculum subjects such as science, math, reading and language arts.

Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide

A planning guide for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects, the Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide (8 MB PDF) is a tool that takes teachers and administrators through the process and outlines the steps to creating a successful project where students go outside to experience nature. The guide has everything you need to go from concept to completion, and with a successful result: creating a natural space on school grounds where students will observe, draw, write, think, question and learn.

Habitat Restoration

SYH restoration projects are designed to fulfill the mission and goals of the school, the USFWS and other cooperators, and should address multiple environmental and educational objectives.

The Service can provide on-site technical assistance to educators, administrators, students, and community members who wish to create an effective, sustainable outdoor classroom and wildlife habitat on their school grounds.

Typical projects include pollinator habitats, meadows, forests and wetlands. While the size and scope of a project varies greatly from school to school, all projects must be a minimum of 1000 square feet in size and consist of native vegetation.

Up to $8000 per school is available for projects that meet funding requirements. Preference will be given to schools that have a team of teachers and school community members who have a clear vision for the project and have taken schoolyard habitat training.

Teacher Training

Through its SYH Program, schools can also receive teacher training on how to use the project throughout the curriculum. Teacher training workshops are designed to expand the environmental knowledge and skills needed by teachers to bring their students and lessons outdoors.

Contact Karleen Vollherbst to host training for your site. See sidebar for contact information.

Last updated: November 10, 2017