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Five volunteers sit under an outdoor pavillion for students at the local elementary school.
Information icon Local Ruritan group constructed seating area with donated materials. Photo by Kendall Smith, USFWS.

Students go wild at school

Students at White Oak and D.F. Walker Elementary Schools in Edenton, North Carolina, have not just been reading about wildlife; they’ve been creating homes for wildlife right in their schoolyard. Over the past two years, students, teachers and many volunteers worked together to plant over 1,000 pollinator-friendly plants, enhance a wetland, and construct a trail and seating areas so that students will have their own space to learn outside. It’s called the Sandy Ridge Outdoor Classroom and it’s the students’ new favorite place at school.

A set of natural wood benches and stools cover a large round piece of stone that serves as an outdoor classroom.
Classroom area with pollinator garden in the background. Photo by Kendall Smith, USFWS.

Staff members from the Service’s North Carolina Migratory Bird Field Office coordinated the project with support from the Edenton National Fish Hatchery and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The project also relied on donations from many in the community, as well as assistance from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and grants from Dominion Power and the Captain Planet Foundation. Parents, students and staff members at the two schools volunteered many hours.

A trellace with a sign indicates the entrance to an outdoor classroom.
Entrance to the loop trail with sign explaining the value of the wetlands. Photo by Kendall Smith, USFWS.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on June 5, to commemorate the completion of the project. In addition, teachers will have an opportunity this summer to attend an onsite workshop provided by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on how to best use the site for education. For a while, the butterflies and turtles will get to enjoy their new habitats peacefully; but, come fall, students will again be going wild as they enjoy and learn about nature right outside their classroom door.

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