Growing Connections 2011

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Co-presentation with Audubon at Home for Arlington Green Expo, Schools Forum

Co-presentation with Audubon at Home for Arlington Green Expo, Schools Forum

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  • I was inspired in April at a conference about Outdoor Learning - when Martin Ogle said, “ Just do it!”. There had been no interest amongst our PTA in planning for the garden. So we decided to follow an incremental adaptive evolutionary pattern - rather than master planning. I am very happy with this adaptive model - it allows us to be responsive to changes within an overall vision. The other thing is to start where you are: Second grade already had a pollinator monarch garden and wanted to take kids out. Bu they were having difficulty growing milkweed as the soil is compacted rubble and alkaline. I had a 15-minute strategic conversation with the staff - offered to help and suggested we do a plant sale - to raise awareness in the school. They thought it would be fun so we went with it. We involved the whole school in gathering up pots. Dug up spare seedlings in the garden, potted up marigolds and sold everything on Earth Day for a dollar a pop. Very successful. Kids learned that the garden could be productive, they learned economics, math and looked after plants and felt a huge sense of achievement.
  • .
  • In the fall I talked with 4th grade staff. They didn’t feel ready to take out whole classes but suggested I take out a 4th grade lunch bunch of about 10 kids. I have been using teaching materials from Master Naturalists and Junior Master Gardeners. It’s been a very enjoyable and effective group. I’ve learned a lot from talking with folks here - and then put into practice. After a bug hunt one kid wrote in our journal “Found Nature”.
  • ATS has a Ugandan family who have set up a sister school in their native village. It is a very big project for both communitiies.. And at the outset of ramping up the garden - I think there was a fear at our school that gardening might detract from the link to Uganda. So I thought to make a Uganda garden and strengthen the connections. We were given a banana tree by Glencarlyn Library and planted peanuts given by the Ugandan family. These plants are also crops in Mali which is studied by 3rd grade. An African garden, like this, could be a simple addition to any school here in Arlington.
  • I had noticed in our schoolyard that many trees were planted and then died from neglect. So realized before we planted any more - we needed to set up a structure to look after them. We have set up an “Adopt a Tree” program. There is also a memorandum of agreement now between PTAs and the County for looking after any trees that the County provides. I think ATS now would be ready to plant and look after trees.
  • Maintenance is a huge issue in schools. Our strategy so far is to create and maximize opportunities for parents and volunteers to help - with the long term goal of getting kids out to study and maintain the garden.

Transcript

  • 1. Growing Connections Through Outdoor Education Mary Van Dyke for Green Schools @ Green Living Expo
  • 2. Where? Arlington Traditional School (ATS) Garden
  • 3. Players…. Connections
    • Identify your community webs
  • 4. Goals?
    • Increase biodiversity
      • Native/non-native
    • Build community
      • Awareness
      • Appreciation
      • Stewardship and Outdoor Learning
  • 5. Make it happen…
    • Info exchanges
    • Liaise with school community
    • Publicity, blog, invite experts and volunteers, google groups, email, apsgreenschools
    • Plant exchanges
  • 6. Low Budget - High Value
    • Donations
    • PTA Funds
    • School Budget
    • Grants
    • Plant Sale
  • 7. Plan B - bees, rakes, rain…
    • Risk Management Trainings: 4-H, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners
  • 8. Link it!
    • SOLs
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Art
    • Math
    • Curriculum
    • Be creative!
  • 9. Stage events…
  • 10. Just do it! Plant Sale funds Pollinator Garden
    • Community awareness and participation
      • Go with what you’ve got - the Second Grade Team
  • 11. Neighborhood Day
    • Spanish/English flyer
    • Invite the neighbors!
    • Link with County and Civic Association
  • 12. Colonial Williamsburg Garden
    • 4th Grade Virginia Studies
    • Study and label plants - properties and uses
    • Native and non-native plants
  • 13. Veg Patch - Food to Eat
    • Start small and grow
    • Link growing and eating
    • Give to own community
    • “ Plant a Row” for AFAC
    • APS Food Services accept vegetables and herbs
  • 14. 4th and 5th Grade Lunch Bunches “Found Nature!”
    • 6-8 self-selected kids
    • Pilot Outdoor Learning
    • Lessons curriculum-linked
      • Our Colonial Garden
      • Plant/Weed ID
      • Bug Hunt and Food Web
      • Seeds and Food
      • Bulbs and Corms
      • Watering Techniques
      • Dig it! Soil Science
      • Tweet Tweet: Look Listen and Learn about Birds
  • 15. Uganda Garden
    • ATS has a sister school in Uganda
    • 3rd grade study Mali too
    • Make people and crop connections
      • Plant bananas, peanuts, beans, sesame
  • 16. Trees - The Big Picture
    • What do they need to thrive?
      • Water, soil conditions, sunlight, care
    • “ Adopt a Tree”: county/staff/students/PTA memorandum
    • Technology and Trees: Tree ID, Calculate Tree Benefits online and Map trees with Googlemaps
    • Extended Day and NOVA Outside Tree Lessons
  • 17. Summer Watering Have fun!
  • 18. Maintenance?
    • Who does what when?
    • Make opportunities
      • “ Green Hours”
      • Weekend “Big Projects”
      • Students recess lunch bunch and classes
      • Volunteers
      • Custodians
      • Just hire folks in - if so who, and who pays?
  • 19. Native Habitat Project and Stormwater Management
    • Best Management Practices
      • Native Habitats
      • Rain Cisterns,
      • Rain Garden
    • Players
      • County, PTA, Staff, Students, Earth Sangha, ACE, Audubon Community Volunteer Network
    • Learning opportunities
      • - Chesapeake Bay issues
      • - 4th and 5th curriculum
    • Funding $$$
      • Fundraising, Grants
  • 20. Native VA Landscapes
  • 21. Thanks everyone!
  • 22. Contact: Mary Van Dyke, [email_address] The ATS Gardening Blog is on Arlington Public Schools website.