GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide

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Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide

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  • 1. Georgia Schoolyard WildlifeHabitat Planning GuideSchoolyard Wildlife Habitats are a part of a largermovement to use the natural environment as a teaching Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats Improve Academic Achievementtool. This guide is intended to help develop, use andmaintain school grounds for hands-on, minds-on edu- National research shows that Schoolyardcation and conservation. It includes some good ideas Wildlife Habitats work and are highly bene- ficial. Data collected in 60 schools in 13submitted by real persons at real schools states, since 1996, indicates that "using thein Georgia. environment as an integrating context for learning" (EIC) has significant positive effects on academic achievement, classroomA Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat will: behavior and instructional practices. EIC provide areas for teaching and learning about nature. students exhibit: restore habitat for wildlife. improved performance on standardized decrease mowing maintenance costs. tests in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. provide alternative classroom setting. create beautiful places on campus. greater academic performance in stu- enhance biodiversity. dents in EIC programs than peers in traditional programs in 92% of the schools. This guide was made possible reduced discipline and classroom man- agement problems in some cases by as through the generosity of much as 95%. Georgia Power, Southern increased engagement and enthusiasm Company, US Fish and Wildlife for learning, resulting in substantially Service, and the National Fish improved attendance. and Wildlife Foundation. heightened contributions to their com- munities through effective service- Written and compiled by Georgia Wildlife Federation, learning projects. 11600 Hazelbrand Rd., Covington, GA 30014 Ph: 770-787-7887 To learn more about EIC in Georgia, visit www.eeingeorgia.org/eic. Fax: 770-787-9229 Website: www.gwf.orgThanks to all those who helped in the creation of this guide: theGeorgia Forestry Commission, Callaway Gardens, Zoo Atlanta,Atlanta Botanical Garden, National Wildlife Federation, and all theGWF volunteers, administrators, teachers, parents and students whoshared their great ideas. Photography by Hank Ohme.2006
  • 2. Table of ContentsPlanning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom Last .......................................................................................... 1What is a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat? ................................................................................................................... 2Getting Started: Planning & Organizing Your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat ......................................................... 3Form Your Wildlife Habitat Committee .................................................................................................................. 5Evaluate Your Campus .............................................................................................................................................. 7Making A Plan: How Can We Enhance Our Campus For Education And Wildlife Habitat? .............................. 8Beginning the Design Process .................................................................................................................................. 11Getting Buy-in Before You Build .............................................................................................................................. 12Basic Elements Of Habitat ........................................................................................................................................ 15Raised Bed Gardening: Nature Right Outside Your Door ...................................................................................... 16How To Create A Butterfly Garden: A Special From Callaway Gardens ............................................................... 17Butterflies And Plants ............................................................................................................................................... 18Shrubs And Vines That Attract Hummingbirds ..................................................................................................... 19More on Birds ............................................................................................................................................................ 20Birdhouse Specifications ........................................................................................................................................... 21How To Properly Plant Trees: A Special From The Georgia Forestry Commission ............................................ 22Native Trees ............................................................................................................................................................... 23Wildflower Meadows: The No-Mow Alternative .................................................................................................... 24Theme Gardens: A Special From Zoo Atlanta and Atlanta Botanical Garden ..................................................... 25Rain Gardens & Water in Your Habitat: A Special from www.cleanwatercampaign.org....................................... 26Pond Plants ................................................................................................................................................................ 29Courtyards: Creatively Using Small Spaces ............................................................................................................ 30Composting: Recycling Natures Way ...................................................................................................................... 31Make An Earth Window and Tracking Box ............................................................................................................. 32Miscellaneous Features For Your Habitat ................................................................................................................ 33Developing Your Nature Trails ................................................................................................................................. 34Raising Funds In Your Community ......................................................................................................................... 36Grants: Tips For Successful Proposal Writing ......................................................................................................... 38Getting More Help: Spotlight On Other Resources Available To Assist You ......................................................... 40Evaluating the Success of Your Outdoor Classroom ............................................................................................... 42Best Management Practices: How To Create A Sustainable Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat .................................... 43Habitat Calendar ....................................................................................................................................................... 45Nature Glossary: Speaking The Language Of The Environment ........................................................................... 46Appendix A: Outdoor Classroom Needs and Interests Survey for Teachers ......................................................... 48Appendix B: Schoolyard Site Inventory Checklist .................................................................................................. 50Appendix C: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Resources Inventory ............................................................................ 51Appendix D: Curriculum Connections Chart ......................................................................................................... 52Appendix E: Possible Sources for Volunteers, Donations and Funding ................................................................ 53Appendix F: Recommended Resources for Habitat and Natural Gardening ........................................................ 54Appendix G: Recommended Online Resources for Habitat and Natural Gardening ........................................... 56Appendix H: Additional Outdoor Classroom Resources ....................................................................................... 58Appendix I: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat - Case Studies ........................................................................................ 59
  • 3. Planning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom LastAn Introduction to the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning GuideI n 2004, Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) received funding support from Georgia Power, Southern Company, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to begin the Urban Conservation and Education Initiative (UCEI) to improve and increase the number of schoolyard wildlifehabitats in Georgia. GWF reviewed nearly 2000records of outdoor classroom projects in Georgiafrom the years between 1989 and 2003. While this Top 5 Reasons Listed by Schools:is an impressive number of outdoor classroomprojects, follow-up inquiries into the current sta- Why Outdoor Classrooms Failtus of these projects presented a troubling trend.The study revealed that 41% of outdoor class- 1. Continued maintenance and upkeep 2. Teachers unsure or unable to incorporate usage into lessonsrooms were no longer in use and were usually 3. Inadequate fundingabandoned by their second year1. 4. Vandalism (especially at high schools) 5. School expansion or relocationGiven the amount of time and resources investedin these outdoor classroom projects, it is troubling Why Outdoor Classrooms Succeedthat so few seem to attain long-term sustainability. 1. Community supportThis guide is designed to combat this trend as well 2. Student involvementas offer general planning advice. 3. Funding 4. Teacher trainingIt is our hope that this guide will help outdoor 5. Administrative supportclassroom enthusiasts avoid common pitfalls andpromote outdoor classrooms that are both long- Source: GWF survey, 2004.term, effective teaching tools and sustainable habi-tat for Georgias wildlife. While many teachersand volunteers are often eager to "get their hands in the dirt" asquickly as possible, GWF urges that some careful planningbe done before investing significant amounts of time,energy and money on outdoor classrooms.We also urge educators to remember that taking stu-dents outside to explore the pre-existing schoolyardis already available and free of cost. Studentsthemselves can begin their outdoor classroomexperience by assisting in the planning process,such as conducting site surveys and research onlocal wildlife as a class project.1See http://www.gwf.org/resources/wildlifehabitats/bmpindex.html for a complete explanation of this project. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 1
  • 4. What is a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat?A Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat is an outdoor laboratory alive with learning opportunities for all ages across the curriculum. Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats are designed to attract wildlife by providing elements cru- cial to wildlife survival: food, water, cover and places to raise young.The Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat (SWH) Program is a mission-based education outreach of the GeorgiaWildlife Federation, the oldest and largest non-profit conservation organization in Georgia and the state affili-ate of the National Wildlife Federation. Georgia Wildlife Federation volunteers began working with schools inthe early eighties on creating campus-based versions of the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program® developed in1973 by the National Wildlife Federation. Schools can qualify for certification as part of a national registrythrough the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org/schoolyard.In 1989, GWF President Jerry McCollum officially established the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Program andmade it a focus of the organizations conservation education efforts statewide. Since that time, GWF staff andvolunteers have worked with hundreds of Georgia schools in developing Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats.How long will it take to develop a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat at our school?Many schools have found it most effective to develop habitats in phases. It is important to remember that thehabitat project offers teaching opportunities from the minute it is considered. The most successful projects arethose that have moved slowly, but have taken advantage of a variety of teaching opportunities every step ofthe way.What will the project cost?Costs vary and depend on your plans, but your project can be very inexpensive. Part of the educational value ofa Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat project is the inherent opportunity to be creative and resourceful. A little ingenu-ity goes a long way in showing a child the power of "reuse and recycle."Who will do the work?A habitat project offers a great chance to involve the community. Parents,students, educators, grandparents, scouts, local garden clubs, and othergroups have worked together to transform campuses into excitingplaces to learn about nature. In addition to the assistance providedby the Georgia Wildlife Federation, there are other resource agen-cies which will help schools working on habitats.How will we develop a plan?Go visit other habitats. Talk to teachers and volunteers involvedin ongoing projects. Habitats reflect the personality of eachschool and yours will be unique, but learning from the experienceof other schools will help you get started.For help on finding other schools that are involved with SchoolyardHabitats, read about the Georgia Green and Healthy Schools programat www.eeingeorgia.org. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 2
  • 5. Getting StartedPlanning & Organizing Your Schoolyard Wildlife HabitatC reate a Schoolyard Habitat Project Notebook and Folder The first step towards creating your schoolyard habitat will be to create a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat notebook and folder. Use this folder to keep track of all documents, photographs, lists, ideas and otherimportant information for your project. Make sure this notebook stays at the school and is stored somewherecentral, such as the media center. Keeping records of what you are doing now will greatly assist others whocome after you to keep the project ongoing.Consult with the PrincipalNo Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat project should be undertaken without the support of the principal and theapproval of the school system. The principal can give a broad overview of issues related to the school facility.Troubleshooting might include discussion of the following points: future plans by the school system for addi-tional buildings; play fields, parking lots and portables; routine maintenance program; potential for funding/in-kind donations from the community, PTA and Partners in Education; special considerations for neighboringproperties; access for disabled and other special need students; and liability issues.Survey and Inform Key PeopleAll teachers should be encouraged to give input. This will help to ensure that the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat isused regularly and is incorporated into all curriculum areas. It will be well-worth the time to find out what isimportant to teachers, students and other users of the outdoor classroom. Also, get help from your local com-munity. Publicize your project to the PTA, the Board of Education, Partners in Education, student clubs andvarious community organizations.Dont forget to discuss your plans with the school system maintenance department and apply for any neces-sary permits from the county. Otherwise, your project might get "cleaned up," mowed over or graded.Form a CommitteeYoure going to need some help. Involving absolutely everybody might slow things down, but, after all, its oneof the main reasons (and rewards) for doing the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat project. A permanent committeeshould be organized soon after consideration is given to developing the habitat, open to all interested persons,and, most importantly, headed by a project coordinator to oversee all committee tasks. A committee will: uti-lize the various backgrounds and talents of the community; spread the workload; and create a solid foundationand help ensure that the project continues year after year. The committee should include as many stakeholdersin the project as possible, including: principal, several teachers, and custodian or grounds personnel; PTA vol-unteers and other interested parents and family members; local natural resource professionals and hobbyists;and students.Involve StudentsIt is strongly recommended that your committee either have a student body equivalent or include student rep-resentatives. Some committee positions can be student equivalents such as publicity, historian, and volunteercoordinator. Dont miss this opportunity to build students life skills. Student involvement in planning andimplementing the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat will build ownership and help prevent problems with vandalism. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 3
  • 6. No Help? Try thisQuick-and-Easy School Gardens for the Lone Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat CrusaderThe best Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat is one that engages the whole school, and endures the test of time in orderto provide long term habitat for wildlife and learning opportunities for students. However, students, faculty,administration and academic policy are very often in flux. It can be overwhelming to have to organize a largeproject with so many variables.If you are a lone teacher or parent who is facing insurmountable difficulties with organizing a SchoolyardWildlife Habitat with your whole school, it may be best to scale back your project to something that can be eas-ily maintained by one person or class. Here are some suggestions: Create a small habitat outside a classroom window or near a door Use this small, manageable space to: install nesting boxes or wildlife feeders; maintain a small vegetable, flower or herb garden; create a small raised bed garden that contains native plants that provide habitat; or plant small trees or shrubs. Be sure to check with the maintenance staff about regulations regarding how close plantings can be to the building. Create container gardens. Use a large planting pot or drill multiple holes in a trash barrel, wooden barrel, plastic wading pool or other large container and fill with potting soil for planting. Move container gardens whenever neces- sary, eliminating the problem of location conflicts. A container garden can even be hauled to your home during the summer for watering and maintenance needs! Know that container gardens are often better for people with disabilities, because they can be accessed from chair level. Avoid big, costly projects. Assess for yourself how much you can realistically accomplish alone and start there. It will be more rewarding to keep one small garden bed alive for a year with your students than to spend endless hours organizing a bigger project that has little chance of sur- vival. Think in terms of phases. You may begin with a very simple and inexpensive project that includes only you and your students. However, as other teachers and parents see your success, they may become more willing to emulate your efforts. Gradually introduce more SWH elements to your schoolyard at a rate that equals sup- port for each element. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 4
  • 7. Form Your Wildlife Habitat CommitteeT he committee positions and responsibilities listed on the following page have provided an effective organization for some Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat projects. Your habitat committee may have more positions, more than one person sharing tasks or may, in some cases, combine positions. It is importantto give volunteers very clear and limited tasks for a specific period of time (i.e., historian for one school yearonly, or even one half of the year). Indefinite or vague tasks will wear down volunteers. Rotate leadership posi-tions annually or on another regular and reasonable schedule. This will bring in fresh perspectives and keepyour leaders from burning out. Work to achieve buy-in from the entire school. You may not be able to get everyperson involved, but seek to involve at least one representative from all aspects of the school community.Survey parents annually to find out what skills and resources they would be willing to donate to an outdoorclassroom project. Make copies of the chart on the following page and use it to keep track of your committeeand their responsibilities."Let Them Do It!" - Student participation in SchoolyardWildlife Habitats from start to finishMany teachers and volunteers feel overwhelmedwhen they realize the amount of research and workcreating an outdoor classroom can include.However, students can take on a substantialamount of the work as a classroom project,and, with some careful planning, teacherscan simultaneously meetacademic requirements.Researching WildlifeStudents can survey their schoolyards tofind out what wildlife is already there.The instructor at Seaborn LeeElementary suggests creating a Rolodexfile or spreadsheet specifically for yourhabitat project. This will keepyou organized. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 5
  • 8. Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Committee MembersDate: _______________________________Habitat Project Leader: Phone: Email:He/she should be an effective organizer, have vision, be able to delegate responsibilities and communicateeffectively. Responsibilities: oversee development of the habitat plan.Historian: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: document project progress with “before and after” photos, scrapbooks, and/or video journals.Publicity: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: write press releases for local newspapers, take photos, create a newsletter, or submit articles toPTA newsletter.Volunteer Coordinator: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: promote volunteer involvement, match volunteers to tasks, coordinate workdays and sendthank you cards or notes.Budget/Donations: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: maintain receipts, records of donated goods and services, discounts, invoices to school book-keeper or PTA treasurer for payment.Grants Writing: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: seek and prepare grant proposals and maintain information for writing reports. You don’thave to have a professional, just someone who can write clearly.Teacher Liaison: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: help teachers to use the habitat for class lessons. Activities can include compiling resources,putting together file of ideas to be shared, creating habitat-related bulletin boards and scheduling trainings, etc.Student Representative(s):Name: Grade/Teacher:Name: Grade/Teacher:Name: Grade/Teacher:Responsibilities: represent the student body on each of the sub-committees.Grounds Maintenance: Phone: Email:Responsibilities: communicate the project with other maintenance staff/custodians (who perform groundsmaintenance in and around the Habitat) and implement and maintain a regular maintenance schedule. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 6
  • 9. Evaluate Your Campus“What Have We Got To Work With On Campus and How Does It Support Wildlife?”T he best way to start a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat is to thoroughly investigate the land on campus and its current and potential uses. Get a copy of the plat from the principal, custodian or school system office. Trace it and make a copy you can mark on. Contact a natural resource professional or knowledgeablevolunteer to walk the site with you and give advice. (See contact information under "Getting More Help".)Invite a small group to accompany you such as an interested teacher, a parent and, of course, a student or two.As you walk on the site, note: the buildings, parking lots, play fields, and retention ponds. underground utilities, drains, sewer and septic lines. planned and unofficial patterns of traffic including: cars, bikes, pedestrians and delivery and mainte- nance vehicles. litter, erosion and drainage problems. access to water. parcels of land not being used. County Extension Agents locations for future building plans. often are tremendous resources for plant identification.Evaluate good and bad features of these sites as potential outdoorclassrooms. Consider: Be sure to include points of distance from the school building. interest and unusual facts access from building to grounds. about plant material in a guide security of the site. to the SWH. existing features of wildlife habitat including food, water, cover and places to raise young. Ahead of the game: If possi- ble, meet with administrators,Keep your discoveries in mind as your committee decides where to teachers and county officials tofocus Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat project activities. (See Appendix B for plan a SWH on new schools assite inventory checklist.) Dont forget to take your "before" photos. Now they are being built.is the time! Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 7
  • 10. Making A Plan“How Can We Enhance Our Campus For Education and Wildlife Habitat?”N ow that you have a clearer understanding of your site, you can begin to create a plan. Some schools pre- fer to create a master plan for the whole campus to be implemented in stages. Some schools prefer to identify a small area for a small-scale project which can lead to a large-scale project. It is up to yourcommittee to decide the best approach for your school. Above all, involve students!Look for opportunities provided by your campus.For example, if you are facing a bare campus, you might try a succession study area. Simply stop mowing andsee what appears. Within a season, grasses and wildflowers will create rich habitat for small wildlife. A mowedtrail through the meadow will bring the lessons up close. Or, your committee might decide to begin a refor-estation project by planting native tree saplings and native shrubs in part of the meadow.If your campus has an existing natural water feature such as a stream, lake, wetlands or even a retention pondwith standing water, you might focus on aquatic studies projects. If it has a small wooded area, you might wantto create an interpretive nature trail. Whatever the case, dont overlook any interesting features! Granite out-croppings, endangered plants, threatened wildlife, bogs and even eroded hillsides provide useful teachingstations.Find out what teachers want!Make sure that your vision for your habitat project matches what your The Project Leader At Jacksonteachers will find useful in meeting curriculum objectives. Begin by sur- Middle School in Commerceveying teachers to find out their needs and obstacles in regards to out- began her project by using adoor classroom use. A sample survey form is provided in Appendix A. GWFs teacher survey to find out the needs and wishes ofA Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat will certainly enhance the appearance of other teachers in regards to anthe campus, but it is not primarily a beautification project: it is for edu- outdoor classroom. She wascation and habitat. It is imperative that your project supports teachers able to gather important infor-reaching academic requirements. If it doesnt , it will not be used! mation such as where, when and how teachers would beThink about how to attract and support wildlife. most likely to use a schoolyardAll wildlife requires four basic elements to survive: food, water, cover habitat. She then used thisand places to raise young. Combinations of these four elements are dif- information to create a basisferent for each species, but you can plan a habitat which will support a for the schoolyardvariety of wildlife. habitat design.Evaluate what resources you currently have available.Before you invest in classroom materials and curricula for using the schoolyard habitat, investigate what isalready available to you. For example, other teachers or staff members may already have books, curricula andtools that you can use. Past teachers may have already stocked the school library with good resources onwildlife. Save money for building habitats and training teachers by doing a quick inventory before you planyour budget. For a sample inventory list, see Appendix C. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 8
  • 11. Establish a project schedule and budget.Break down the habitat project into steps: develop a materials Some schools prefer to create a masterlist, budget, and a reasonable time frame for accomplishing plan for the whole campus to be imple-your objectives. Identify volunteers and delegate tasks. Be mented in stages. Some schools identify arealistic about what can be accomplished in one school year. small area for a small-scale project, whichKeep long term maintenance in mind! can lead to future projects. It is up toRemember to keep all your plans and budgets in a central your committee to decide the bestfolder for future reference! Better yet, create an outdoor approach. Above all, involve students.classroom binder or shelf in your media center for The Master Plan Approach: Rebeccaeasy access. Minor Elementary, LilburnMaintenance The Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat at Rebecca Minor Elementary began when aWhen creating a plan, be sure to include a section on member of a local garden club broughtMaintenance. You can start off using your traced copy of the together GWF staff and school faculty,plat bearing the information that you gathered in your site including the principal, to consider aanalysis or draw a simple plat of your campus. plan. Following visits to other schoolyard habitats, the committee recommended a Dont take on too much. master plan which included a variety of Always keep maintenance requirements in mind habitat features. including repairs that may be necessary. Note that vandalism is often an unfortunate fact of Teachers at the school were then surveyed life in schoolyards. and asked to rank the features in order of Break the project down into small steps and share it. priority. The survey results were used to Create a maintenance manual as you go so future guide development of the habitat project caretakers of the schoolyard habitat dont have to re- as it progressed in stages. Their habitat is invent the wheel. now enhanced yearly with various educa- tional habitat stations.Much of the planning for institutionalizing the use andmaintenance of your outdoor classroom should begin before The Small Project Approach: Seabornany significant construction is done. And because schools areplaces of constant change, periodic assessment of your suc- Lee Elementary, College Park The principal says that if she had beencess in these efforts should be conducted to meet your approached about creating a master planschools evolving needs. for a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat at Seaborn Lee Elementary, she would haveYet your design should also possess the unique characteristics balked. It would have seemed too muchof your schoolyard and your school community. It is impor- for their limited resources. Instead, theirtant to allow for some "messiness" in the design. Children habitat began with one simple goal: toand youth often prefer gardens that appear less formal and forge a path to the creek that runsthat contain diverse elements for them to explore with their through the property. Teachers envisioneddifferent senses. Low maintenance will help to sustain an using the creek for hands-on aquaticappropriate "messiness" in your habitat design. studies with their science students. Under the leadership of creative teachers,Just as the development of a habitat is usually done by volun- their habitat is now one of the most excit-teers, maintenance of the new outdoor classroom is almost ing and ingenious in Georgia and hasalways a volunteer task as well. School system grounds per- won state and national awards. It was cre-sonnel and custodial crews rarely have the time to provide ated almost entirely by students and has amore than minimal levels of care for these specialty areas. track record free of vandalism.Habitat design should reflect this reality and call for lowmaintenance over the long term. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 9
  • 12. Many schools successfully assign responsibility for maintenance of outdoor classrooms to an existing PTA com-mittee such as the Environmental or Grounds Committee and student clubs such as 4-H or the Ecology Club.Providing a line item on the PTA budget for annual maintenance assures a dependable source of revenue toaddress needed renovations. Endowing outdoor classrooms with this sort of volunteer and financial legacy willhelp ensure their viability over a long period of time.In addition to volunteers and financial support for any upgrade and future renovations of your SchoolyardHabitat, proper maintenance of an outdoor classroom also requires its continual use by teachers and students.To maintain continual use of your Schoolyard Habitat, it is importantto do the following: At Haynes Bridge Middle Incorporate student activities into maintaining the outdoor School in Alpharetta, project classroom. Have different classes adopt different areas of the leaders created an "adoption outdoor classroom to maintain. list" as a way to delegate various Divide up maintenance by age groups to help keep working in parts of their habitat project. the outdoor classroom popular with students. For example, third graders who are in charge of reseeding the wildflower patch can look forward to maintaining the pool in fourth grade. To further divide the labor, individual students in a class can "adopt" a tree or plant to study and main- tain. This will encourage student ownership of the outdoor classroom. Host an environmentally-based teacher training on how to use the outdoor classroom for all teachers within your school annually. Create a curriculum team to plan for how you will institutionalize the use of the outdoor classroom into your schools curriculum (see Appendix D). Keep school administrators and school district planning and construction offices informed of your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat plans to prevent future land- use conflict. Keep your school and your community regularly informed on events surround- ing your Schoolyard Habitat. Invite community groups to assist with workdays or special projects. Contact your local natural center or environmental education provider to arrange for a demon- stration of activities for your out- door classroom. Avoid relegating the outdoor class- room to just one academic subject. If possible, create different areas that facilitate specific topics. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 10
  • 13. Beginning the Design ProcessT he next step is to create a design for your schoolyard habitat. In order to accomplish this you first need to complete the needs assessment and site survey (see Appendix A and Appendix B). The actual layout and physical characteristics of your schoolyard, along with the needs of the teachers, administrators, studentsand local wildlife will become the basis for your outdoor classroom design.Once you have determined the teachers’ needs, consider doing the following: Host a teacher training that will help ensure all teachers will know how to use the outdoor classroom.2 It is more important that teachers know how to teach a lesson outdoors using the natural environment than to have a fully outfitted outdoor classroom that teachers are unsure of how to use. Create a curriculum team to plan for how you will institutionalize the use of the outdoor classroom into your schools curriculum.3 Remember that planning for the use of your outdoor classroom is as important as the actual design of the outdoor classroom itself. Keep school administrators and school district planning and construction offices informed of your plans to prevent future land-use conflict.Key Points to RememberYour specific outdoor classroom design should reflect the unique characteristics of your schoolyard and yourschool community. However, a few key points to keep in mind are: How will habitat gardens be maintained through the summer? Is what you are designing interesting enough to pique students curiosity and sturdy enough to with- stand their exploration? Does your outdoor classroom provide at least some of the elements of habitat for wildlife: food, shelter, water and space to raise young? A plant that produces food, such as seeds, nuts or berries is less expen- sive, more reliable and better for wildlife, than a feeder made by humans. Native plants, if placed in the right location, are often far hardier and easier to maintain than standard ornamental hybrids. They also provide more elements of habitat for native wildlife making them better for the environment. Will you have the future time, money and resources to maintain the outdoor classroom you are designing? Is your outdoor classroom accessible to all of your students, including not only students with physical disabilities, but also those with mental or emotional challenges, and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students? How will the outdoor classroom meet the needs of your schools teachers to keep their students safe, comfortable and on task to meet academic standards? Will your outdoor classroom meet the standards for appearance required by school administrators?But most importantly…Design outdoor classrooms that encourage students to explore and interact with the natural environment.Create habitat gardens that appeal to different senses and allow for some "messiness" in the design. Childrenoften prefer gardens that appear less formal and that contain diverse elements for them to explore.2There are several good multi-disciplinary environmentally based curricula with lessons designed to meet academic requirements. Commonly avail-able curricula and teacher trainings are: Projects WET, WILD and Learning Tree and National Wildlife Federations Schoolyard Habitats® Program.Check www.EEinGeorgia.org for more information on curricula and trainings available in your area.3See Appendix D for a worksheet to help guide you through using the outdoor classroom to teach performance standards. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 11
  • 14. Getting Buy-in Before You BuildC reating an outdoor classroom is often an exciting prospect to teachers, students and volunteers alike and many want to leap directly to the point of construction as soon as possible. However, because you want the time, money and effort you will invest in creating an outdoor classroom to be well spent, it is impor-tant to generate support from the many users of outdoor classrooms from the very beginning of the project.Listed below are key groups to consider, as well as some hints on how to win their support.Administrators Ask your schools administration about their specific concerns for having an outdoor classroom at their school. Keep them informed on how you will address these concerns. Create a safety protocol4 for using the outdoor classroom in order to minimize liability concerns. Animal bites and stings, diseases such as West Nile virus and rabies and safety issues around water are common school liability concerns. Learn the facts about these concerns and inform administrators how you will address them. 5 Show your principal that an outdoor classroom is not just an "extra". Provide examples of research showing how an outdoor classroom can improve academic performance across disciplines. The State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER) provides one of the most comprehensive studies to this effect.6 If possible, try to get outdoor classroom plans incorporated into your School Improvement Plan.7 Invite your principal or other school administrators to observe a lesson taught outdoors. In this way, he or she can be assured that academic requirements are being met and that you are confident in your abil- ities to teach outside. Even if they are unable to observe, principals will still be impressed that you are confident enough to invite them to observe. Show the potential for overall school improvement that an outdoor classroom can bring. For example, outdoor classrooms can offer beautification, bring in community support in the form of volunteers and make the school more attractive to parents.Teachers Survey teachers to find out their needs and obstacles in regards to outdoor classroom use. Remember, the outdoor classroom will not be used if it doesnt support teachers reaching academic requirements!8 Schedule a Professional Learning Unit (PLU) accredited environmental education training for teachers. The Web site www.EEinGeorgia.org maintains a directory of several excellent multi-disciplinary curric- ula and training programs that meet state and national learning standards.94Consult your schools already established protocols for student safety. Also, other organizations that conduct outdoor youth programs may havegood examples of protocols to draw from. For example, the Boy Scouts offer the online guide Guide to Safe Scouting atwww.scouting.org/nav/enter.jsp?s=ba.5The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has information on the risks associated with diseases such as West Nile and rabies on their website atwww.cdc.gov. Also, contact your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to find more information about venomous animals found in yourarea and the actual level of risk they pose.6Summaries of the study, Closing the Achievement Gap; Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning (EIC), can be downloaded atwww.seer.org.7The Georgia Department of Education provides information on School Improvement Plans at www.doe.k12.ga.us/support/improvement/about.asp.8See Appendix D "Outdoor Classroom Needs and Interests Survey for Teachers".9The Georgia Department of Education provides information on Teacher Professional Development atwww.doe.k12.ga.us/support/improvement/about.asp. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 12
  • 15. Incorporate environmental education training into the Teachers Professional Learning Plan offered at your school.10 Invite a local environmental education provider to lead a lesson or activity in the outdoor classroom so that teachers can see a first hand example of how exciting and successful teaching outdoors can be. Many environmental education providers can provide customized activities that correlate to cross-cur- ricular state academic requirements. Recruit parent or community volunteers who are willing to help chaperone students outside. Provide teachers with a clearly written safety protocol for the outdoor classroom. See the safety protocol listed for administrators earlier in this chapter. Offer pre-made, tried and true lesson plans that are correlated to state academic standards for teachers to "grab and go." Some schools have centrally-located backpacks that have all materials ready for leading an outdoor excursion.Groundskeepers Design your outdoor classroom with minimal maintenance needs in mind. Survey groundskeepers to assess their interest and the skills and resources they are willing to share for the success your outdoor classroom. Discuss your outdoor classroom plans with your schools groundskeepers to negotiate and clarify any responsibilities they are willing to assume in regards to the outdoor classroom. Assist your groundskeepers by scheduling regular workdays for volunteers to do maintenance on the outdoor classroom.Students Recruiting students to help with the initial site assessment outlined in the previous chapter "Starting Where You Are" can be an excellent way to build interest in creating an outdoor classroom. As stated before, the site assessment can be easily adapted to meet academic standards across a variety of disci- plines. It is also an excellent way to start the experience of teaching outdoors before the actual outdoor classroom has been built. Make sure students have some input in the design of the outdoor classroom and that they participate in its construction. This will foster feelings of ownership, which will in turn help prevent possible vandal- ism in the future.11Parents Conduct an annual survey of parents resources and skills that they are willing to donate to the outdoor classroom project. Inform parents about the educational benefits of an outdoor classroom. Please refer to this point under the "Administrator" section of this chapter for more information on how to do this.10In partnership with Georgia Department of Educations Georgia Learning Connections Program, the website www.EEinGeorgia.org offers freeenvironmentally-themed lesson plans that are designed to address and assess Georgias academic standards.11Try holding a contest to have students name the outdoor classrooms, plus each of its components. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 13
  • 16. Community Members and Volunteers Make an easily accessible maintenance guide for your outdoor classroom as you go. In this way, future outdoor classroom leaders and volunteers will know how and when to perform maintenance tasks. Keep this guide, along with other outdoor classroom records, in a central location such as the media center and make sure others know where it is. Update it regularly. Create a centrally located calendar of workdays and events for the outdoor classroom. Advertise this cal- endar to the local community as well as the school. Bring volunteer sign-up sheets to school open hous- es and other school events where parents and community members are present. As much as possible, choose a regular day and time for the workday, such as every third Saturday from 10-12. Plan ahead for possible rain dates. Gather and organize an annually updated skill bank of parents and volunteers. Vary the activities for volunteers. No one wants to weed every time they volunteer! Recognize your volunteers in school and community newsletters, at awards banquets or special events such as a volunteer breakfast hosted by your school. Create a volunteering schedule for summer maintenance. For exam- ple, an individual or family can sign up to take turns caring for the outdoor classroom for one week each during the summer. Avoid making summer maintenance one per- sons responsibility. Make volunteering for the outdoor classroom fun! Provide refreshments and good places to rest. Provide sitters (such as older students, parents or teacher volunteers).Use themes, such as seasons, planting and harvesting to make working in the outdoor classroom feel more like a festival than a chore. Sometimes just phrasing it right can make all the differ- ence.1212One school has declared that they never weed; instead they "feed the chickens."Volunteers and students love pulling up weeds out of the habitat gardens to feed totheir schools small flock of domestic birds. If your school cant have domesticatedanimals, consider feeding a compost bin of earthworms and keeping track of how fast ittakes for your weed pile to be composted. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 14
  • 17. Basic Elements of HabitatB egin your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat with some easy steps. You can address all habitat elements- food, water, cover and places to raise young- in some small way in the initial stages of your project.The features listed below are very basic, but highly visible, and will help teach students about meeting the needsof wildlife while actually benefiting wildlife in your schoolyard. Students can both construct and maintain all ofthese features.Brush pilesBrush piles provide cover for small mammals, birds and insects. You can start one with a discarded Christmastree or yard clippings. Be sure that the materials provided as cover have not been treated with pesticides andother hazardous chemicals.Rock pilesRock piles provide cover for beneficial reptiles and amphibians. Lizards and butterflies can bask in the sun.FeedersThere are many types of feeders which are easy and inexpensive to build. While feedersensure maximum bird activity when stocked, remind students that these are only sub-stitutes for natural food sources such as berry and nut-producing trees or seed-bear-ing flowering plants. Since feeders can be expensive and labor-intensive to maintain,you might want to limit feeding stations to one or two key areas in your SchoolyardWildlife Habitats.Water dishes or birdbathsA clean, dependable source of water is an essential part of your habitat. An inex-pensive terra cotta dish, an upside-down garbage can lid or a birdbath will servewell. It helps to add several flat stones in it as a perch so birds can gradually wadeinto the water. Locate the water source in a protected spot away from shrubberywhich could harbor predators. Make sure that the water feature is near a hose orfaucet, or arrange a "bucket brigade" of students for filling it on a regular basis.Nesting boxesStudents and/or scouts can easily build bluebird, bat, and owl or wood duck boxesfor your habitat. Students should be aware that nesting boxes are only substitutes fortree cavities. If your campus does have a dead tree, called a snag, which does not posea threat, keep it. Snags can also be cut to a height of 6 -10 feet, limiting the possibilitiesof danger. Snags provide extremely important cover and nesting sites for many species.Make sure that these habitat elements are apparent to students. Signs at many schools labelsuch features as brush piles, rock piles and snags. The signage reinforces the concept of habitat to students andopens their eyes to these valuable "wildlife homes." Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 15
  • 18. Raised-Bed GardeningNature Right Outside Your DoorA raised-bed garden is simply a raised area of soil framed by boards, logs, landscape timbers, stones, bricks or other materials. Raised-bed gardening calls for the use of organic matter or amendments resulting in improved soil structure and fertility. The raised-bed method of gardening is easy and lends itself well to Schoolyard WildlifeHabitat projects for several reasons: you can start from scratch; small, contained beds are ideal for experimenting and canbe adopted by various classes; and raised beds can be situated so that all sides are easily accessible.Construction and Soil AmendmentsRemove all weeds and grass from the area and till about a foot deep. Work into the soil some potting soil, compost orshredded leaves. A healthy soil contains organic matter and is loose (feels soft when you crumble it in your hands) andwell-drained. One-third of the final mix should be organic matter. The more time you put into this initial bed prepara-tion, the better results you will have.A good material for borders is the 4"x 8 landscape timbers which are inexpensive and can be purchased at most lumbersupply stores or garden centers. Please use untreated lumber. Recent studies indicate that treated lumber may leach dan-gerous chemicals into the surrounding soil. Some woods, such as cedar and redwood are naturally decay-resistant. Youcan also use plastic lumber, bricks or cement blocks.Garden areas should have clearly defined paths for maintenance personnel, volunteers and students to be able to accessplantings for maintenance and study. Paths should be as level as possible and not mulched, as mulching makes paths lessaccessible for people with motor disabilities.PlantingsConsult a landscape architect or Master Gardener to help you place plantings in the best possible locations in regards tosun and shade, levels of moisture, and types of soil and slope. You should be able to tell from your completed site surveywhat the growing conditions are for different areas of your schoolyard. "Putting the right plant in the right place" willhelp ensure the time and money you invest in planting will be well spent.Remember, fall is the best time to begin your garden because plant roots have several months to grow strong while leavesand flowers are resting (dormant). Choose plants that will mature or bloom between the fall and spring so that your stu-dents get to see the plantings when they are the most interesting.Do your best to use native plants. The reason for stressing the use of native plants in landscaping for wildlife is simple:Georgia plants and Georgia wildlife coexist in communities supporting one another. They are interdependent and eachplant and animal species has a place in native ecosystems. Additionally, native plants are suited to the soil and climateconditions of the state.SignageCreate signage not only to identify plantings, but also to help explain what is happening during seasons when your plantsare dormant. Consider signs that tell viewers that the wildflower patch is currently "sleeping through the winter but willbe back with a surprise in the spring".Garden signs make an excellent art project for students. The more interesting in design and information yoursigns are, the more people, especially your students, will want to read them. Signs that incorporate images willhelp young students, students who have trouble reading or ESOL students understand your garden as well. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 16
  • 19. How To Create a Butterfly GardenA Special from Callaway GardensC reating a butterfly garden is an exciting and rewarding endeavor! It is easy to invite butterflies to your area by gardening with their needs in mind. These beautiful insects will add bright colors and entertain- ing antics to your garden display. Use the following techniques to produce a delightful butterfly gardenin your own backyard.Locate the garden in a sunny area. Callaway Gardens mis-Butterflies and most butterfly-attracting plants require bright sunshine. sion is to "provide a bet- ter understanding of thePlant nectar-producing flowers. living world." To com-Butterflies visit flowers in search of nectar, a sugary fluid, to eat. Many native municate that under-butterflies seem to prefer purple, yellow, orange, and red-colored blossoms. standing, the CallawayClusters of short, tubular flowers or flat-topped blossoms provide the ideal Gardens Educationshapes for butterflies to easily land and feed. Department introduces and interprets the won-Select single flowers rather than double flowers. ders of nature to visitors.The nectar of single flowers is more accessible and easier for butterflies to For more informationextract than the nectar of double flowers which have more petals per flower. about programs and resources at CallawayUse large splashes of color in your landscape design. Gardens, visit www.call-Butterflies are first attracted to flowers by their color. Groups of flowers are awaygardens.com.easier for butterflies to locate than isolated plants.Plan for continuous bloom throughout the growing season.Butterflies are active from early spring until late fall. Plant a selection of flowers that will provide nectarthroughout the entire growing season (e.g. spring- azaleas, summer- milkweeds, fall- eupatoriums).Include host plants in the garden design.Host plants provide food for caterpillars and lure female butterflies into the garden to lay eggs.Include damp areas or shallow puddles in the garden.Some butterflies drink and extract salts from moist soil. Occasionally large numbers of male butterflies congre-gate around a moist area to drink, forming a "puddle club." You can create your own "butterfly puddle" by plac-ing a shallow pan on the ground to collect rainwater. Include flat stones that allow butterflies and other smallanimals to perch at the waters edge safely.Place flat stones in the garden.Butterflies often perch on stones, bare soil or vegetation, spread their wings and bask in the sun. Basking raisestheir body temperature so they are able to fly and remain active.Do not use pesticides in or near a butterfly garden.Most traditional garden pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Use predatory insects, insecticidal soap or hands toremove the pests if problems occur. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 17
  • 20. Butterflies and PlantsB utterflies depend on plants in many ways. The most successful butterfly gardens include plants which meet the needs of butterflies during all four stages of their life cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult. After mating, female butterflies search for a specific kind of "host plant" on which to lay eggs. For exam-ple, monarchs lay eggs on milkweed, black swallowtails on dill, and Eastern tiger swallowtails on tulip poplar orwild cherry. Some butterflies lay eggs on more than one type of plant while others only use one particular kindof host plant.In a few days, caterpillars emerge from the eggs and begin to eat. Caterpillars are selective eaters and only feedon specific kinds of plants. If the desired plants arent available, the caterpillars will starve rather than eatanother type of vegetation. Usually female butterflies lay eggs on or near the plants their caterpillars prefer toeat. Most butterfly caterpillars feed on native plants and are not considered agricultural or ornamental pests.In a few weeks when the caterpillars are fully grown, they shed their skin for the final time and change intochrysalises. Inside each chrysalis the body of an adult butterfly is formed. Often chrysalises are attached to plantstems and protected by surrounding vegetation.After emerging from the chrysalis, the adult butterfly soon begins to search for nectar-rich flowers to feed.Plants are important to butterflies during each stage of their life cycle. A garden designed with this in mindattracts the largest number and greatest variety of butterfly visitors!Plants for a Butterfly GardenNECTAR PLANTS HOST PLANTS AND BUTTERFLIES ATTRACTEDHerbaceous Perennials and Annuals Herbaceous Perennials and AnnualsBlue Azure Sage (Salvia azurea) Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) - Frosted ElfinHeliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) - MonarchJoe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp.) Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) - Silvery CrescentspotNew England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) - Gulf FritillaryPurple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) - American Painted LadyRose Vervain (Verbena canadensis) Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) - E. Black SwallowtailSunflower (Helianthus spp.) Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) - BaltimoreYellow Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) Violets (Viola spp.) - Variegated FritillaryWoody Shrubs, Trees and Vines Woody Shrubs, Trees and VinesBlueberry (Vaccinium spp.) Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) - Red Spotted PurpleBottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) - Spring AzureButtonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) - Zebra SwallowtailClimbing Hydrangea (Decumaria barbara) Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) - Spicebush SwallowtailNew Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) - Eastern Tiger SwallowtailPiedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) - Long-tailed SkipperWhere To Get More Information About ButterfliesMonarchs Across Georgia (MAG) is a collaboration of the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA), teachers,students, families, communities, businesses and others, all working together to study Monarch butterflies andrestore butterfly habitat across the state. The mission of MAG is to engage schools and families in learningexperiences involving Monarchs and other native butterflies. The MAG program promotes stewardship of thenatural environment through multi-disciplinary exploration and scientific investigation. For educational mate-rials, programs and workshops, visit the MAG website at www.monarchsacrossga.org. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 18
  • 21. Shrubs and Vines That Attract HummingbirdsV ines and shrubs provide food as well as natural cover and nesting habitat. Plan for year-round availabili- ty of berries and seeds. In addition to growing nectar producing plants, hummingbird feeders are a sure way to enjoy watching the hummers. To make the nectar, combine four parts water to one part sugarand bring to a boil. DO NOT use honey, sugar substitutes or red food coloring. Feeders should be cleaned everythree to five days using a brush, hot water and vinegar.Shrubs PerennialsAmerican Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Beebalm (Monarda didyma)Blackberry (Rubus spp.) Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosom) Canada Lily (Lilium canadense)Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) Cross Vine (Anisostichus capreolata)Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)Plums (Prunus spp.) Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) Mountain Rosebay (Rhododendron catawbiense)Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) Scarlet Morning Glory (Ipomoea coccinea)Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)Sumac (Rhus spp.) Swamp Mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)Waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera)VinesCoral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)Greenbrier (Smilax spp.)Passion-flower (Passiflora incarnata)Trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans)Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)Wild Grape (Vitis spp.) Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 19
  • 22. More on BirdsFeedersT he ideal Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat includes plants which provide food all year. However, this is not always possible. Supplemental winter feeding can help birds when available food supply is the scarcest. Feeders also provide opportunities for observing birds close-up.Tips for feeding birds Separate food types and leave enough space between feeders. Birds are generally very territorial. Keep the area around and under your feeders clean. Rake up the peanut shells, sunflower hulls and gen- eral debris on a regular basis. Make sure there are no sharp edges or points of wire sticking out on feeders that might injure the bird visitors. Regularly clean and disinfect feeders with a stiff brush and a vinegar/water solution. Rinse well and place in the sun to dry before filling. Use containers with resealable lids to keep out rodents which can contaminate feed and spread a host of diseases.Nesting BoxesWhile birds are using their boxes, discourage pets or loud, unusual activity near the box. This may cause thenesting pair to abandon the nest. Once young birds leave the nestbox, they enter a “fledging” stage. These youngbirds will be closely supervised by their parents for the 2-3 days, until they learn how to fly. Fledglings may hopalong low shrubbery or even onto the ground. Remember this is a normal part of being a bird! The best wayyou can help is by loose pets indoors during this crucial stage in the birds’ life.Tips for using nesting boxes Follow exact specifications established by wildlife professionals for dimensions of each bird house inte- rior size, depth, entrance size, entrance above floor, and height above ground. See Appendix J for speci- fications. Choose the correct habitat to match the type of bird you are trying to attract. Provide a predator guard to ensure safety from cats and other tree-climbing predators. Allow plenty of time for painted birdhouses to become free of odors by hanging them outside several weeks before the nesting season. Place the entrance hole in a southerly direction to protect against cold northerly winds. Provide a slightly rough inner surface to the birdhouse to provide a means for nestlings to fledge by climbing out of the birdhouse. Securely fasten the birdhouse with wire or nails to ensure against motion by high winds. Have an adult inspect the house occasionally for invasion by fire ants and wasps. Use woods which have natural weather resistant properties such as cedars. Move a house that has remained unoccupied for more than one season to a different location. Attempt to place birdhouses as early as February and March for the advent of mating season. Allow adequate ventilation and drainage holes. Check the nest and nestlings occasionally. Clean a house after each season. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 20
  • 23. Birdhouse Specifications For Common Georgia Cavity-NestersBird Interior Depth Entrance Entrance Hole House Height Preferred Habitat Size (in.) (in.) Hole (in.) Above Floor (in.) Above Ground (ft.)Eastern 5x5 8 x 11 1½ 6-7 5 - 10 Open areas with no tall under-Bluebird growth.Carolina 4x4 8 - 10 1 - 1½ 6-8 6 - 15 Brushy borders.ChickadeeWood Duck 10½ x 10½ 24 3 x 4 ellip- 18 - 20 10 - 25 Near margins of pond waters. to 12 x 12 tical holeAmerican 8 x 8 to 12 - 15 3 9 - 12 10 - 30 Brushy borders and open areas.Kestrel 9x9White-Breasted 4 x 4 to 8 - 10 1 - 1½ 6-7 5 - 20 Semi-shaded woody areas.Nuthatch 5x5Brown-Headed 2 x 3 8 - 10 1 6-8 5 - 20 Pine woods and mixed pine-hard-Nuthatch wood forests.Carolina Wren 4 x 4 to 6-8 1 - 1½ 1-6 6 - 10 Brushy areas near closed canopy of 5x5 trees.Tufted 4 x 4 to 8 - 10 1 - 1½ 6-8 6-15 Brushy areas near closed canopy ofTitmouse 5x5 trees.Tree Swallow 4 x 4 to 6 1½ - 1¼ 5-7 10-15 Semi-open areas near ponds or 5x5 lakesPurple Martin 6 x 6 6 2 - 2½ 1 15-20 Bungalow-type colony house in open areas near low brush.Prothonotary 4x4 8 1½ 5 4-7 Swampy areas in hardwood forestsWarbler near water.Screech Owl 8x8 12 - 15 3 9 - 12 10-30 Widely spaced tree areas and meadow edgesBarred Owl 13 x 15 16 8 9 - 12 10-30 In or near forested areasBarn Owl 10 x 18 15 - 18 6 4 12-18 In or near forested areas, farm- yards, or fields.Common 7x7 16 - 18 2½ 14 - 16 6-20 Large trees in open woodlands,Flicker fields and meadows.Pileated 8x8 12 - 30 3 - 4 10 - 20 12-60 Mature trees in wooded areas.WoodpeckerRed-Bellied 6x6 12 - 14 2½ 10 - 12 12-20 Mature trees in wooded areas.WoodpeckerRed-headed 6x6 12 - 15 2 9 - 12 12-20 Open areas of woodland edges.WoodpeckerHairy 6x6 12 - 15 1½ 9 - 12 12-20 Opend woodlands and forests.WoodpeckerDowny 4x4 8 - 10 1¼ 6-8 6-20 Open woodlands near fields andWoodpecker urban areas. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 21
  • 24. How To Properly Plant TreesA Special From The Georgia Forestry CommissionSite Selection for Tree PlantingT he survival and growth of your trees will depend on what you do before the trees are even planted. All trees have basic requirements of air, water, sunlight and sufficient soil space to grow. Limit any one of these and your trees will die or never reach expected results. Find out where these trees grow in natureand then try to supply those requirements. Check with your local Georgia Forestry Commission or ExtensionService personnel for a possible site visit to help with the all important task of selecting an appropriate site toplant your trees.Sources of treesLocal garden centers and nurseries are potential sourcesalong with the Georgia Forestry Commission andUniversity of Georgia Extension Service.Tree Planting ProceduresNo matter how healthy the tree, if you do not plant itcorrectly, success will be minimal. Prepare your planting hole in advance of getting the tree. Dig a hole about twice as large (diameter) as the size of the container or root ball of the tree to be planted. Dig the hole only to the depth of the container or root ball. Planting too deep will cause the tree to grow poorly or not survive. After planting, water thoroughly and put at least three to four inches of mulch (straw or bark) around the tree, but no closer than three inches to the trunk. A wooden stake beside the tree may be needed to hold it upright and protect it from lawnmowers. Allow for two inches of lateral movement. Mulch the tree yearly and let the leaves or pine needles remain for additional protection of the trees roots. Mulch helps reduce the need for additional watering. Water is the most critical factor for new tree survival. Deep watering is recommended and can be done in a number of ways: using garden hose with water running slowly, at a trickle; positioning a soaker hose above the root ball and allowing water to soak through the soil profile; and positioning a five-gallon bucket with a small hole tapped into the bottom next to the tree and fill the bucket with water. Watering is necessary in summer months. Make sure that you have a maintenance plan in place BEFORE summer. Recruit several people to take turns in taking care of your schoolyard habitat, especially watering new plantings. Families and volunteers can sign-up to adopt plantings on a rotating basis. Avoid delegating responsibility for summer maintenance to just one person. Too much water is harmful to trees. Have a natural resource professional help you choose suitable planting sites with adequate drainage. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 22
  • 25. Native TreesYear-round Food and Cover For A Variety of Wildlife SpeciesLarge Trees Small TreesAmerican Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Devilwood (Osmanthus americanus)American Holly (Ilex opaca) Florida Anise (Illicium floridanum)Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) Redbay (Persea borbonia)Basswood (Tilia americana) Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)Blackgum (Nyssa slyvatica)Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata)Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)Loblolly, Longleaf and Shortleaf Pine (Pinus spp.)Loblolly Bay (Gordonia lasianthus)Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)Pignut, Bitternut Hickories (Carya spp.)Post Oak (Quercus stellata)Red Maple (Acer rubrum)River Birch (Betula nigra)Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana)Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandifloria)Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata)Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum)Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)White Ash (Fraxinus americana)White, Red and Chestnut Oak (Quercus spp.)Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)Schools with minimal space available might choose to use container gardens to grow wildlife-attracting plants.See the lists of native shrubs for good alternatives to trees.Note: Create a living history tree library. Imagine an arboretum with such trees as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Sycamore or trees with significance tothe American Revolution, Black history, poets and artists and more. For more information, visit www.historictrees.org. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 23
  • 26. Wildflower MeadowsThe No-Mow AlternativeC reating a meadow on your campus is as simple as stopping mowers in an area not needed for other activities. Within a season, a rich variety of native, naturalized and introduced grasses will crop up. Insect activity will increase and birds will follow.A wildflower meadow should be planted in the fall.A small, intensively planted meadow can be started from scratch. Choose a sunny spot of manageable size for mainte-nance with decent soil and access to water. Measure the area and observe conditions carefully. Seed in the fall when tem-peratures are cooler and rain fall is abundant. Some plants germinate in the fall and produce small tops and establish rootsystems. Other seeds wait to germinate the following spring.First, clear the site of grass and seeds which will compete with the flowers you plant. One easy way to do this is by solariz-ing. Simply cover the area you wish to turn into meadow with clear plastic sheeting at the beginning of summer. Weightthe sheeting down with cement blocks or logs. The sheeting will magnify the heat of the sun, and kill off the grass andweeds underneath. When you return in the fall, the grass should be dead and easy to remove. You may also wish to till thearea first and then solarize. This will expose seeds and roots to the intensified heat, and will help prevent future infesta-tions of weeds. Repeated light cultivation and removal of growth in advance of seeding will prepare the site. Submit a soilsample to the County Extension Service for information on soil fertility and levels. Fertilizing at the time of planting isgenerally discouraged because of weed seeds which would been encouraged.SeedingChoosing the right seeds is a critical step. Seeding is expensive but costs can be justified by reduced mowing and mainte-nance costs over the long term. Many ready-made meadow mixes contain seed of exotic plants not well suited toGeorgias climate. You might prefer to purchase seeds of individual native plants selected for suitability to your conditionsand climate. Many seed companies will advise you on selection.Seeding rates should be 5 oz. per 1,000 feet or 10 pounds per acre. Amounts can be increased for more color. The propermix of grasses to wildflower should reflect a natural ratio of 80% grasses to 20% wildflowers. Application of the seed canbe done by hand, hydroseed, or drill depending upon the size of the meadow. Newly planted seeds should be kept moistfor 4-6 weeks. A light mulch will conserve soil moisture and protect the seeds from birds. Choices for a light mulchinclude pine straw, pine bark, or wheat straw.Maintenance Flowering Plants for MeadowsAs seeds germinate, familiarize yourself with the appearance of the young Aster (Aster spp.)meadow plants. Weed out undesirable intruders which will rob the mead- Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)ow plants of nutrients and water. Do not be discouraged at the slow pace Blazing Star (Liatris spp.)of growth. Many meadow plants spend the first season growing roots with Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)very little top plant growth. Many perennial species do not bloom in the Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)first year. In fact, establishing a meadow may take 3 to 5 years! Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) Ironweed (Vernonia spp.) Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)Maintenance of the meadow will include intensive weeding and care dur- Native Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)ing establishment followed by an annual mowing to a height of 4-8" in late Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)winter or early spring. The litter should be ground and allowed to fall to Verbena (Verbena spp.)the ground to permit reseeding. Some reports compare the costs of main- Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)tenance for a turf grass lawn at $1,500 per acre per year and a managedmeadow at $100 per acre per year. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 24
  • 27. Theme GardensA Special From Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Botanical GardenA s you and your students plan your garden, you may want to consider theme gardens rather than just compiling a list of desirable plants. What is a theme garden? The best way to answer that is with exam- ples. Several are listed below. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!Rainforest Study Garden from Zoo AtlantaThough it is not possible to create an actual rainforest at your school, it is possible to landscape with nativeplants that mimic the design of those found in such areas. This will allow up-close study of the characteristicsof rainforest plants.The following plants recommended by the Horticulture Department of Zoo Atlanta have been used to createsimulated rainforest exhibits for African and Asian wildlife species at the zoo. These plants possess characteris-tics of rainforest plants, i.e., large-surfaced leaves with deep channel and drip tip for water runoff: Southernmagnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla), Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipfera),Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), Spider Lily (Hymenocallis occidentalis), andOakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)Theme Gardens from the Atlanta Botanical GardenTheme: Animal Garden. All of the plants in the garden have animal names. Plant examples: Turtlehead(Chelone lyonii), Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum), Spider Lily (Hymenocallis occidentalis) and Monkey Flower(Mimulus ringens).Theme: Dinosaur Garden. The garden includes plants that grew in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamedthe earth. (Note: an existing garden in Virginia contains a dinosaur footprint pond and a large egg-shapedrock.) Plant examples: Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) and Horsetail(Equisetum hyemale).Theme: Storybook Garden. Students select a story and include plants in their garden that are mentioned inthe book. This in a fun way to incorporate language arts into your garden. Example: Brer Rabbit or JoelChandler Harris garden including okra and collards.Theme: Wild Salad Garden. Plant wild salad greens and other tasty spring and fall vegetables that can befound in the wild. Plant Examples: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Chicory (Cicharium intybus), Jerusalemartichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album) and Asparagus(Asparagus officinalis).Theme: History Garden. Choose plants from certain historical periods such as the American Revolution, orlinked to historical figures such as American Presidents. Plant Examples: White Oak (Quercus alba), for theCharter Oak; Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenophrum) for President George Washington.Other Ideas:A music garden, for example, might feature wind chimes and natural plant materials used tomake musical instruments. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 25
  • 28. All About Rain GardensA Special from www.cleanwatercampaign.orgWhat Is a Rain Garden?Rain gardens are beautiful natural landscape features thatrequire less maintenance and fewer chemicals than lawns. Water and Your HabitatRain gardens capture runoff from impervious areas such asroofs and driveways and allow it to seep slowly into the Wground. Most importantly, rain gardens help preserve near- ater is a vital landscape elementby streams and lakes by reducing the amount of runoff and in a successful wildlife habitat.filtering pollutants. Some school campuses are fortu- nate enough to have a natural source ofWhy Plant a Rain Garden? water such as a stream, lake or wetlandsRain gardens provide for the natural infiltration of rainwa- and need only to provide safe access toter into the soil. This helps to filter out pollutants including these areas. Some schools without naturalfertilizer, pesticides, oil, heavy metals and other chemicals water features meet this all-importantthat are carried with the rainwater that washes off your requirement by the simple addition of alawn, rooftop and driveway. Rain gardens also reduce peak birdbath or small dish. When it comes tostorm flows, helping to prevent stream bank erosion and constructing larger water features, there arelowering the risk for local flooding. By collecting and using a number of options, from "dry streams" torainwater that would otherwise run off your yard, rain gar- rain gardens to bogs and ponds. It isdens allow you to have an attractive landscape with less important to choose a water feature thatwatering. does not require more funding and mainte- nance than you can supply. Be sure to real-How Do Rain Gardens Work? istically evaluate your schools resourcesA rain garden receives runoff water from roofs or other before deciding on a kind of water feature.impervious (hard) surfaces such as driveways. The rain gar-den holds the water on the landscape so that it can be taken Clairmont Elementary in Decatur has ain by plants and soak into the ground instead of flowing large but shallow pond built under theinto a street and down a storm drain or drainage ditch. The direction of a volunteer parent. One end isplants, mulch and soil in a rain garden combine natural only six inches deep with sand on the bot-physical, biological and chemical processes to remove pollu- tom, allowing the area to be filled with atants from runoff. Many pollutants will be filtered out and diversity of bog plants.break down in the soil over time. Teachers note from Knight Elementary:Water should stand in a rain garden no longer than 24 "As our habitat has evolved from trash canhours after the rain stops. Mosquitoes cannot complete lids to our present ponds, the children havetheir breeding cycle in this length of time, so a rain garden learned from the successes and failures ofshould not increase mosquito populations. each stage of development. As a teacher, I have loved the ponds at their grungiest.Where Are The Best Places to Locate Rain Gardens? We have found that, in order to have a vari- Rain gardens are best located in natural depressions ety of organisms, you need a little dirt! My (low lying areas where water flows naturally). They last class found tadpoles, snails, backswim- should be sited at least 10 feet from a house or building. mers, water spiders, a living dragonfly nymph, etc." Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 26
  • 29. Plants for a Rain Garden While they should not be next to building founda- tions, rain gardens near impervious surfaces such as driveways, patios and sidewalks help capture the runoff from these areas. Finding plants for your rain garden is not diffi- Sites with steep slopes (an elevation change of more cult. Many well-suited plants are available at than 12 feet down per 100 feet in length) may not your nearest landscaping supply store. Here are be suitable for rain gardens. Further, if you have a some suggested plants (common and scientific septic system, avoid planting a rain garden over the names): top of the drain field. It is recommended that a landscape professional be consulted if you plan to TREES build a rain garden larger than 300 square feet. Trees are effective in rain gardens that are larger than 150 square feet. Plant trees at least eight feet apart.Where Are Rain Gardens Not Beneficial? Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) Rain gardens are not appropriate where the seasonal Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) high water table is within 24 inches of the soil sur- Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) face because the water table will prevent infiltration. Musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) Rain gardens should not be placed over a septic sys- Red Maple (Acer rubrum) tem. River Birch (Betula nigra) Rain gardens should not be located next to Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) building foundations. Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)How to Create a Rain Garden SHRUBS American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)1. Locate a site for a rain garden in a natural Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) depression in the landscape. Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)2. Determine the size and shape of the rain garden. Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) To calculate the size, consider the area draining to a Waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera) rain garden, including the roof area or impervious PERENNIALS, GRASSES & GROUNDCOVERS area that drains to the downspout and the area of Asters (Aster spp.) land between the downspout and the rain garden. Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) The larger the roof or impervious (hard) area and Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) the slower that water infiltrates into the soil, the Riveroats (Chasmanthium latifolium) Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) more area of rain garden needed. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) An effective rain garden depends on water infiltrat- Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) ing into the soil of the garden. Soils with a lot of Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) clay will infiltrate water very slowly, so the size of a Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) rain garden in clay soils should be 60 percent of the Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum) Liatris (Liatris pycnostachya) total drainage area. Sandy soils infiltrate water more Narrowleaf Dragonhead (Physotegia angustifolia) quickly, so a rain garden in a sandy location does New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) not need to be as large. For sandy soils, the rain gar- Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) den size should be about 20 percent of the area Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) draining to it. Loamy soils can be sized somewhere St. Johnswort (Hypericum fasciculatum) Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) between 20 and 60 percent, keeping in mind that Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) the slower the infiltration, the larger the area should Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) be. It is important to know your soil before you Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) start a rain garden project. To test the infiltration of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) your soil, dig a hole 6-8 in deep in the area that the Yellow Stargrass (Hypoxis spp.) rain garden will be located. Fill the hole with water. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 27
  • 30. Observe how long it takes for the water to move (infiltrate) into the soil. If any water stays in the hole for 12 hours or longer, then the soil is not suitable for a rain garden. If you determine that your rain garden area needs to be greater than 300 square feet and you wish to plan the site without outside assistance, divide the drainage area between two or more rain gardens, and build each so you can easily manage them both. A rain garden should be curvy in shape and is best situated with the longest length perpendicular to the slope of the land. Use rope to lay out the boundary of the rain garden.3. Once the rain garden is laid out, you can start digging. Begin by removing soil in the rain garden so that the deepest part is about 8 -10 inches deep. The bottom of the rain garden should be as level as possible so some minor grading may be necessary. The extra soil removed from the rain garden should be used on the downhill side of the garden to create a berm, an earthen dam or barrier that will keep the water in the rain garden. The top of the berm should not be higher than the uphill edge of the rain garden (no more than 12 inches high). The rain garden should be designed to hold no more than 6 inches of water above the ground surface.4. Mix organic matter into the soil within the rain garden by spreading 2 to 4 inches of compost over the area and mixing the organic matter in with the existing soil. If the soil is acidic (has a low pH), add lime to neutralize the pH of the soil. Contact a local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service office for a soil sampling test by calling 770-228-7274 or go online to www.ces.uga.edu. For soils with high clay content, it may be beneficial to remove about 1-2 feet of the soil and replace it with a more porous "rain garden soil." A soil mix suitable for rain gardens is 50-60 percent sand, 20-30 percent topsoil, and 20-30 percent compost. The clay content in the rain garden soil replacement mix should be no more than 10 percent.5. A shallow swale or corrugated drain pipe should be set up to carry the water from the roof downspout to the rain garden. Make sure that the ground slopes away from the house so that water does not collect around the foundation.6. Establish a grass or groundcover border along the upper edge of the rain garden to slow down the runoff water as it enters the rain garden, and do the same over the berm to stabilize it as a border of the rain garden.7. Select and plant drought tolerant, wet tolerant and hardy plants. A mix of ornamental grasses, shrubs and self-seeding perennials are good choices. See chart of plants.8. Once plants are in place, cover the garden with a 3" layer of mulch. Lighter mulches such as pine bark and straw will float in water and may be washed away to the edges of the rain garden. Better mulch choices for a rain garden are more dense materials such as pine straw, wood chips or shredded wood.9. To maintain your rain garden, remove weeds on a regular basis as the landscape plants grow, and replenish mulch as needed. As the plants in the rain garden mature, there will be less need for mulch and weeding. Rain gardens should be relatively low maintenance if the correct plants are chosen.10. Plan on providing an "overflow" path for water to take if the rain garden fills and more rain comes. This path should be stabilized with a hardy grass or groundcover. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 28
  • 31. Pond PlantsBasic Types of Pond PlantsT here are three basic types of pond plants that can be used in a schoolyard pond. Each type of pond plant is categorized by its Lee County Primary in Leesburg function and position in the pond. created a safety fence around their pond that doesnt detract 1. Submerged Oxygenators from the landscape by using posts are rooted to the bottom and are totally covered by water. strung through with nylon rope. purify water by absorbing mineral salts and carbon dioxide produced by animal waste and decaying plant material. All of the following are perenni- are the first plants to add to your pond. al in Georgia: Arrowhead Examples: Anacharis (Elodea canadensis), Cabomba (Cabomba (Sagittaria latifolia), Pickerelweed caroliniana), Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum). (Pontederia cordata), Swamp 2. Floaters Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). may be rooted to the bottom, but leaves float freely on the Requirements: 3-6 hours of sun- water surface. light per day; 1"-6" of water purify water by filtering wastes, absorbing nutrients and above soil level; fertilization once adding oxygen. a year shade the water, depriving algae of the sunlight needed to grow. Moisture-loving plants for shady Examples: Carolina mosquito fern (Azolla caroliniana), conditions: Sweetflag (Acorus Duckweed (Lemna minor), Fragrant Water lily calamus), Jack- in-the-Pulpit (Nymphaea odorata). (Arisaema triphyllum), Bee Balm 3. Marginals (Monarda didyma) live near the edges, or margins, of water. grow well when planted 3"-6" deep so they can hold their leaves and flowers high above the water surface. will also grow in moist, well drained soil on the bank of a stream or pond. offer colorful flowers and foliage to ponds. Examples: Sedges (Carex spp.), Goldenclub (Orontium aquaticum), Arrowheads (Sagittaria spp.), American lotus (Nelumbo lutea), Seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), Green needle rush (Juncus effusus).Around the Pond Landscape around your pond to create a lush, natural netting and contribute to wildlife habitat. Good choices of native plants include: Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and Waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera). Some native wildflowers thrive with wet feet and provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies: Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum) and Smartweed (Polygonum spp.). Choose from varieties of native irises and other interesting native plants such as: Copper or Red Iris (Iris fulva), Virginia Iris (Iris virginiana), Lizardtail (Saururus cernuus), Cattail (Typhia latifolia). Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 29
  • 32. CourtyardsCreatively Using Small SpacesT he Georgia Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation created a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat exhibit garden at the 1994 Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta. The garden demonstrated ways schools with little land and funds can develop an innovative wildlife habitat and learning laboratory. The gardenwas met with enthusiasm from audience and judges alike, winning the Bulkley Medal from the Garden Club ofAmerica, the Horticultural Society of New York Medal and an Atlanta Botanical Garden Certificate.The design of the garden was subject to the reduced space, root zone, air, and light of a courtyard. Native plantsthat thrive well in such an environmentwere chosen. Such plants either providefood, shelter, or spacefor wildlife.Ideas for a Courtyard: Amphitheater - a small three-sided trellis structure supported by a base of raised bed gardens. Plants on trellis: Smilax vine with berries for birds Curved raised-bed hedge to enclose amphitheater. Plants: Waxmyrtle to provide food and cover. Border of painted concrete blocks turned on the side (lined with plastic or masonry sealer as the concrete is highly absorbent and will dry plants out). Plants: Johnny Jump-ups and Violas for seasonal color and nectar. Old wheelbarrow container garden. Plants: Fothergilla to attract pollinators and creeping blueberry for summer fruit. Perch and plant. Plants: Various wildflowers including Joe-Pye-Weed, Purple Coneflower and Black- eyed Susan for summer bloom and autumn seed. Pond with sandy area for tracking and rock pile for cover. Plants: Dwarf Cattail and Pickerelweed Semi-circle bed. Plants: Redbay for evergreen cover and food sources. Parallelogram bed with butterfly plants. Plants: Spicebush, Dotted Horsemint and Skullcap - host and nectar plants Cubic meter bed with root-viewing window. Plants: Yellowroot, Witchhazel Cold frame built from recycled lumber and plastic. Plants: Pricklypear Compost heap Cable spool for table Bamboo "tent" frame with hummingbird - attracting vines. Plants: Trumpetcreeper, Crossvine, Red Woodbine Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 30
  • 33. CompostingRecycling Nature’s WayF rom the Latin word meaning "to bring together," composting is an excellent way to experience cycling of nutrients up close. Composting is recycling at its best.What can be composted? Spotlight on Sope Creek Elementary,Yard clippings, spent plants, leaves, kitchen waste including egg Marietta: Vermicompostingshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings, potassium Fifth graders at Sope Creekrich wood ash from the fire place, newspaper, paper towels Elementary have one of the most thor- ough and successful composting proj-Building A Compost Bin ects around. Student monitors useYou can use any mechanism that collects the compost materials their vermicomposting station to recy-in a convenient stack while providing air and space to turn the cle leftovers from the school cafeteria.pile. One of the easiest ways to make a bin is by rolling a few feet The students have even put together aof fence wire into a tube. Another approach is to construct old fully illustrated manual explainingshipping pallets into a box with one side hinged for ease of their project step by step.opening and turning. Locate the bin in a convenient, protectedplace with filtered light and access to water.How to build the pileLayer carbon materials (brown stuff) such as straw, sawdust, dead leaves, chipped twigs with nitrogen materials(green stuff) such as grass clippings, kitchen waste and worm castings. Then moisten the stack with a littlewater to the consistency of a damp sponge. This will create a habitat for microorganisms ready to start theprocess of decomposition, converting the compost materials to humus. Turn the pile frequently to keep it aerat-ed and watch the community of decomposers develop within. Nematodes, mites, springtails, spiders, cen-tipedes, pill bugs, beetles, and earthworms will join fungi and microbes already present in the pile. An activepile will turn into humus within three to six months. This humus can then be applied to your garden as a fer-tile soil or natural fertilizer.TroubleshootingSymptom: unwanted pests.Cause: addition of waste such as meat, bones, dairy products, grease.Solution: remove such items from the pile; bury any food scraps deep within the pile to discourage raiding. Insect pests such as flies or maggots can be controlled by turning the pile to encourage high temperatures to kill larvae.Symptom: unpleasant odor.Cause: not enough oxygen, too much nitrogen, or too much water.Solution: turn the compost pile to aerate. Add carbon.Symptom: wont heat up.Cause: many causes.Solution: change the mix ratio; turn to aerate; moisten; add manure or soil to introduce microorganisms. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 31
  • 34. Make An Earth Window & Tracking BoxMake an Earth WindowC reate a window into the earth for students to see soil strata, plant root systems, seed germination, forma- tion of topsoil, and insect tunnels. Seeing into a slice of earth has applications across the curriculum. Materials Needed two 2" x 6" x 8 wood board, untreated two 2" x 4" x 8 wood board A word of advice: As mentioned previ- four 80-pound bags of mortar mix ously in "Raised Bed Gardening: Nature nails Right Outside Your Door", the use of waterproof labels to identify interesting features treated wood in your Schoolyard 3 x 4 x 3/4" piece of lexan (clear heavy-duty plastic) Habitat can not only be hazardous to wildlife (including soil organisms that one 4 x 6 x 3/4" wood board nourish the soil) but to students and 21 square feet of granite stone visitors as well. Therefore, we encourage four hinges you to use untreated wood such as pine, oak or cedar. If you decide to treat orSelect a site for your window. The USDA Natural Resources seal untreated wood at any time, useConservation Service (NRCS) can assist by taking soil core sam- alternative non-toxic timber treatmentsples to locate an area with undisturbed layers. Next, excavate the such as linseed oil, limewash, bakingarea to a depth recommended from the soil samples. A landscape soda or SafeCoat sealers (see www.afm-drain installed at the base of the excavation will assist drainage. safecoat.com) etc. to slow down woodFrame in a panel of lexan creating the window. Drill several deep decay. Or simply use wood alternativesholes to prevent condensation. Edge with granite for an optional such as boards of recycled timber, recy- cled plastic, brown vinyl and composite.support wall. Construct shutters with hinges to conceal and pro-tect the window. A padlock is recommended to reduce vandalism.Credits: Chris Patrick, Stone Mountain, Eagle Scout.Make a Tracking BoxL ooking for evidence of wildlife is one method of determining the types of animals that occur in the Schoolyard Habitat. Signs such as burrows, nests, droppings or food litter can be identified, but the easi- est signs to interpret are animal tracks. By creating a tracking box, you will provide a tool for educatingstudents of wildlife present, even though they may not actually see or hear them.Credits: Grant Duffy, Stone Mountain, Eagle Scout. To build a 5X 5 Tracking Box Locate a level well-worn area near water if possible. Cut four 5-ft landscape timbers or logs of similar size. Nail the corners together or use wood-joiners. Fill with sand, smooth and level, creating a clean "palette" Optional Add hinged top door to prevent use of the tracking area as a litter box. Build benches or place stumps nearby for observations or class lessons. Place a layer of plastic on the ground first to avoid weeds. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 32
  • 35. Miscellaneous Features For Your HabitatPerch and plant: Under a wire bird perch, you can clear a strip of ground and observe what grows from theseeds "planted" by bird droppings. You can also inventory plants along a fencerow, a popular bird perching site.Erosion study area: Leave one part of a small slope bare. Plant a second part of the slope a groundcover (i.e.native grasses and wildflowers) and mulch the third part. Then compare the amount of soil that has eroded oneach part of the slope.Amphitheater: An amphitheater is simply a semi-circular area of outdoor seating. Schools often put in benchesto seat classes or clubs. An amphitheater should be located in a shady area in a quiet part of campus.Litter bins: Bins for both litter and recyclables should be at entrances and gathering areas in the SWH.Rules: Rules are important to maintain cleanliness, respect and order in your SWH. You can formulate a list ofsimple rules for good conduct in your habitat and post them at entrances and gathering areas.Weather Station: A weather station can include a rain gauge, windsock, anemometer, barometer, minimum-maximum and simple thermometers, hygrometer, sundial and weather vane.Coldframe: A mini-greenhouse can be easily constructed from old window panels. Contact your local exten-sion agent for more directions on constructing a greenhouse; also go to www.caes.uga.edu/extension for otherrelated greenhouse publications.Weatherproof Blackboard: A great addition to an outdoor classroom to use as a teaching tool! Be sure to havechalk or a marker on hand.Geology Station: You can mount Georgia rocks and minerals into a permanent display in your habitat withinterpretive information included.Rain Garden: Building a rain garden (or a couple of rain gardens) in your own yard is probably the easiest andmost cost efficient thing you can do to reduce your contribution to stormwater pollution. To learn more, visitwww.raingardennetwork.com.Entrance Arbor: You can set aside an outdoor classroom as a special place and lend design integrity to thespace by constructing an entrance arbor. Simply use durable materials such as 4"x4" or 6"x6" posts embeddedin concrete, a lattice trellis, or even hardwood tree trunks fashioned into a rustic entrance.Stepping Stones: Make special stepping stones for your SWH by collecting natural objects found at your schooland then pressing them into wet concrete forms.Insect Pit Traps: Make simple insect pit traps by embedding several glass bottles in the ground to their topsand bait each with different food items (i.e. a piece of fatty meat, fruit, or vegetable). Prop the bottle tops atground level leaving a small gap. Return the next morning to compare insect visitors in each bottle.Take advantage of any existing special features at your school. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 33
  • 36. Developing Your Nature TrailsW alking trails around fields and through woodlands can be designed for long and short excursions. A natural resource professional such as a forester, extension agent, wildlife specialist, or amateur natu- ralist can walk the proposed area and make recommendations about natural amenities to be high-lighted including key plants, evidence of wildlife, geological formations including rock outcroppings, uniqueterrain, or water features.Entrance Students at Cousins Middle adopted aA nature trail should be easily accessible from the school certain section of their trail and werebuilding with an attractive entrance and exit. Create an responsible for keeping it cleanarbor and transition zone such as a meadow path leading to and repaired.the nature trail to encourage students and visitors to bereceptive and respectful of the special place. Students at Seaborn Lee Elementary made signs for their trail using pieces ofConstruction 2"x 4" lumber nailed onto stakes. Route: Design a 4 - 6 wide path winding through At Rebecca Minor Elementary, habitat the available land while minimizing changes to the volunteers poured cement into cat food existing habitat. Avoid steep grades, low wet areas, or cans to create sturdy bases for their signs. creek banks where foot traffic would create erosion problems. Plan the path to accommodate large Barnwell Elementary School recycled real groups. Allow for gathering places at key points estate signs from its business partner. A where a teacher might want to group a class printing company painted and lettered the for discussion. new trail signs. Access: Add bridges, steps, handrails, and sections of fencing to improve safe passage. The principal and appropriate school system officials should approve plans for constructed features. Also, special access needs for physically challenged students should be carefully considered in the plan. Surface: Use a variety of materials to surface a trail to keep the traffic of many feet from churning up mud. Identify natural by-products of local businesses that can generate a supply of free materials such as pecan and peanut shells or sawdust. Power companies or tree care firms often donate wood chip mulch. River or granite sand, pine bark, grass clippings, straw, or fall leaves can do the job as well. Mowed paths through a meadow provide an effective passage. Because it does not wash away easily, gravel is sometimes used on trails that are subject to occasional flooding. A boardwalk path can be con- structed for wetland areas. Borders: To make the trail clearly visible to even the youngest students, the path can be bordered by fall- en limbs and logs collected from the woods. This involves no cost but will need to be done again each year as decomposition occurs. Wood borders are an expensive alternative and can interfere with the nat- ural look of a trail. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 34
  • 37. Signs: Interpreting information on the trail through signs is an important teaching device. Signs can be used for identification and include only common and botanical plant names or carry additional inter- pretive information and even illustrations. Signs should be large enough to read from a distance, durable, weather resistant, and replaceable. Signs are often vandalized and should be installed with this fact in mind. There are as many approaches to signage as there are habitats from inexpensive signs made with available or collected materials to expensive professionally manufactured signs: 1. Multi-laminated paper 2. Tree limb slices with painted information 3. Sandblasted or routed signs 4. Vinyl letters on painted marine plywood or plastic 5. Professionally printed plastic or metal 6. Number codes with an interpretive handoutNature Trail MaintenanceBe sure to maintain your trailson a routine basis. Nature trailsneed to be enjoyable and free ofdanger (i.e. woody debris, litter,and other obstacles that couldprove hazardous to studentsand visitors such as thornyblackberry bushes). Basictrail maintenance oftenrequires regular checksand cleaning of trails,pruning, leveling, widen-ing, weeding, etc.as needed. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 35
  • 38. Raising Funds In Your CommunityT he first step in realizing your goal of developing a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat is projecting or estimating the project cost. This job requires some quiet time with a pad of paper and pencil. Sit down and make a list of proposed project objectives including everything from blazing a trail to constructing an arbor orbuilding a pond. For each of these tasks, make a list of equipment and materials youll need to get the job done.Then attach an estimated cost to each item on the list of equipment and materials. Putting this information ina simple chart displaying tasks, materials, costs, and sources will give you an at-a-glance budget and help you toorganize a strategy in funding the project.Many schoolyard habitats can be developed with little or no money At Lee County Primary, the proj-thorough the use of recycled and donated materials and fundraisers. ect leader got permission to writeSome Partners-in-Education are willing participants in habitat proj- a weekly column in the local news-ects by donating funds, expertise and/or materials. Check with local paper mentioning the happeningsconstruction companies to see if they have extra building materials and needs of their habitat project.they can donate. Contact your local nature center to find out if there She also recommended using theare any plant rescue groups in your area. These groups dig up native local paper to find businesses thatplants in areas slated for construction and are always on the lookout might be receptive to requestsfor a good place to transplant them. for donations.If you are able to identify specific project needs and accompanying At Seaborn Lee Elementary, thecosts with your chart, you will be prepared to approach a donor with project leader used her studentsa need closely matched to their capabilities. Run a regularly updated poetry and drawings from thewish list for your outdoor classrooms in your school newsletter, habitat when seeking donations.website or community paper. Create a simple brochure and standard They were very persuasive! Manysolicitation letter on school letterhead that can be used by anyone to schools have sold Habitat or Earthbe able to easily explain your project and ask for donations. Most Day t-shirts to raise money fordonors give when asked because they want to support a cause their projects.important to them, honor their personal relationships, and/orenhance business goals. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 36
  • 39. Tips on raising fundsRemember what you have to offer potential donors: valuable publicity through school publications! Let apotential donor know upfront the kind of publicity that you can provide in return for support. You couldacknowledge the donor in the student newsletter, on the schools reader board on a busy street, on a sign in theoutdoor classroom, or in a flyer sent home. Plant nurseries, lawn and garden centers and hardware stores inyour area are often willing to donate to a good cause in their community, especially if they are acknowledgedpublicly for it.Ask clearly for what you want. A clearly defined, organized wish list is an effective way to get donations. Donorswant to see exactly what their money is supporting and may prefer to fund an entire project such as a butterflygarden or a weather station that can be clearly identified as their contribution to the school and/or community.Always follow through on requests from potential donors and fulfill promises made. Send thank you letters,cards and/or notes promptly. Students can write thank you notes or make posters to place at businesses thatmake donations or host fund raisers, etc. The lessons to be learned by par-ticipating in the fund raising process are important, valuable lessonsin life.More fund raising adviceYou could also host local events for fund raising such asa run/walk, silent auction, raffle, car wash, a specialbanquet for lunch or dinner, contest, concert, etc. Becreative! There is more than one way to raise fundsfor your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat. Be sure thatyour fund raising event complies with applicablestate, federal, and school regulations governing fundraising activities.Finally, be sure to ask others to solicitcontributions from their own contactsas well. Make fund raisinga team effort! Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 37
  • 40. GrantsTips For Successful Proposal WritingBefore you apply…Identify one or two persons to be responsible for writing grant requests. The persons need not have experi-ence in writing but should have technical writing skills. Writing grant requests is nothing more than communi-cating ideas in a clear and concise way according to guidelines set out by grantors.Begin writing about your project. By creating ready-to-use statements, you will not be overwhelmed whenyour first grant application arrives in the mail. The following elements correspond generally to the format ofmost small grant packages: Project purpose/goal: Two or three sentences are enough. Project description: This summary should be organized so as to reflect the ways in which your project matches the funding objectives of the grantor. Project detail: Have a numbered list of the activities that you plan to carry out your project. Here you show your project to be achievable, (i.e., a good investment). Timeline: Promise only what you can reasonably achieve, and be specific. Most grants place deadlines on project completion. Budget: A well thought-out line-item budget shows that the project is a good investment. The grantor wants to know that funds will be used effectively. Show that you are careful with their money as you would be with your own. The budget is the test of whether or not what you want to do matches with what they want to fund. Some grants require matching funds or in-kind donations. You can easily match a grant in-kind by adding up donated items like plants, building materials, snacks for volunteers, office supplies for posters, thank you letters and cards, etc. Any professional that lends expertise to your project, such as a landscape architect, is donating a consultants fee; have them write you a receipt. If a parent offers free use of equipment such as a tiller, figure up what that would have cost you in rental fees.Let the school community know that you are looking for grants. Thebest grants to seek are small, local grants. There will be less competitionfor these grants, and you are more likely to have personal contact withthe grantmaker. However, do not hesitate to file for large nationalgrants that are well-matched to your project. EnvironmentalProtection Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration, and otheragencies and foundations distribute many thousands of dollars ingrants appropriate to Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Projects. Alsocheck out the EEinGeorgia website at www.eeingeorgia.org for thelatest grant information. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 38
  • 41. Once you have a grant application in front of you...Follow all directions in the application to the letter. Readers of grants usually go through a series of weeding-out steps. The first step often involves clearing out applications that did not follow directions. The applicationformat set out by grantors helps them in their review process. Deviating from that format means making thingsdifficult for the reader. Make sure that your proposal at least gets read.Pay attention to the language in the grant application package. Put key words from the application packageright into your proposal. Successful grant writing is really a matchmaking process: the grantor has definiteobjectives and you must convince them that your project fits their needs.Make yourself a checklist from the grant application package. Make sure that you have addressed all require-ments mentioned in the grant application package. For example, if the grantor prefers to fund projects thatpromote community involvement, express clearly how your project will involve the community. Do not neglectto address any funding goal of the grantor set out in the grant application package.Have someone read your proposal. Your reader should ideally be someone not closely involved with orinformed about your project. This distance will help them find any gaps or confusing elements in your propos-al. Any question left unanswered by your proposal for this reader will also be unanswered questions for thegrant reviewer. Make your proposal as clear, readable and complete as possible based on yourreaders comments.Make sure that your proposal is neat and pleasant to read. Look at it objectively: Is it inviting? Have you useda type size large enough to read easily? Is the text double-spaced? Have you broken text into small sections withheadings or do you have long, unbroken passages that can turn the reader off?Finally, meet your deadline! Make sure that you deliver your proposal in a timely fashion. Send your proposalto grantors in media specified in the grant application package whether by U.S. mail, fax, or email.More about Grants and Corporate Sponsorship Visit www.EEinGeorgia.org and the Outdoor Classroom Council link at www.eealliance.org for an up- to-date list of grants available. Receive monthly updates and news by signing up for the e-news at www.EEinGeorgia.org. Many large corporations are resistant to receiving several requests for small sums. Before approaching corporate funders, contact nearby schools to see if they would be interested in joining you in soliciting for funding as a group. A corporation may be much more willing to give money for outdoor classrooms to a block of schools, or a school district, than a single request.But most importantly…Keep copies of all your fund raising efforts: parent surveys, grants, fund raising letters, contact information ofdonors both small and large, for others to reference later. This will help you keep track of who you have askedfor what, and will make it easier for new outdoor classroom champions to find the resources they need. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 39
  • 42. Getting More HelpSpotlight On Other Resources Available To Assist YouGeorgia Master Gardener ProgramThis is a volunteer gardening training program offered by the University of Georgia Cooperative ExtensionService. The training consists of 40 hours of classroom instruction on horticultural principles and pest controlpractices. "Master Gardener Interns" must then provide a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service to theircommunity, assisting with gardening related activities such as Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat projects. For infor-mation, contact your local UGA County Extension Agent. Find your local UGA County Extension Agent athttp://caes.uga.edu/extension/.Phone: (706) 542-3824Website: http://extension.caes.uga.edu/mastergardener/Habitat StewardsHabitat Stewards is the volunteer training and mentoring arm of the National Wildlife Federations BackyardWildlife Habitat™ program, supported in Georgia by the Georgia Wildlife Federation. As a Habitat Stewardshost, the Georgia Wildlife Federation administers the Habitat Stewards training program at the communitylevel, acting as the liaison between NWF and individual Habitat Stewards volunteers. A Habitat Stewards volun-teer is an individual who has a keen interest in the environment, and a willingness to volunteer his or her timeand expertise to assist others in the creation or restoration of wildlife habitat. Habitat Stewards can offer greatassistance in your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat project. To get assistance from the Georgia Habitat Stewardteam, contact the Georgia Wildlife Federation at:Phone: (770) 787-7887Website: www.gwf.orgGeorgia Forestry CommissionForesters from the Georgia Forestry Commission provide technical assistance to landowners, homeowners,builders, schools and government agencies in tree selection, planting, and maintenance. The GFC administersenvironmental education and tree planting grant programs. Project Learning Tree workshops are conductedthroughout the state by GFC personnel. Many schools have called on local foresters to help identify trees andadvice on the development of nature trails. Call the Macon headquarters for more information about theforester serving your community.Phone: (478) 751-3500Website: www.gfc.state.ga.usGeorgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Division (WRD)Contact your local DNR office for wildlife questions and technical assistance. Check under "Georgia state" list-ings in the phone book.Phone: (770) 918-6400Website: www.georgiawildlife.org Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 40
  • 43. Boy Scouts and Girl ScoutsLocal scout troops have proven to be valuable resources for schools working on habitat projects. Boy Scoutsoften meet requirements for badges by helping out in the development of the habitat. Scouts have built blue-bird boxes and feeders, and have helped build trails, boardwalks and tracking boxes. The opportunities are lim-itless. Contact your local Boy or Girl Scouts.Boy Scouts Website: www.scouting.orgGirl Scouts Website: www.girlscouts.orgNatural Resources Conservation Service (Georgia)The Natural Resources Conservation Service is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TheDistrict Supervisor is an elected volunteer position held by persons dedicated to conservation. A DistrictSupervisor might help map out trails, identify wetlands, or inventory plant species. The NRCS office in yourcounty can be found by looking in the phone book under USDA.Phone: (706) 546-2272Website: www.ga.nrcs.usda.govAtlanta Urban Gardening Program (AUGP)This program works with communities, schools and other groups in grow-ing vegetables on small plots of land and developing good nutritionalskills. For technical assistance in organizing and maintaining commu-nity-based gardening efforts, call:Phone: (404) 730-7000 or (404) 762-4077.Website: www.co.fulton.ga.us/departments/cooperative_ext.htmlKeep Georgia Beautiful CommissionContact your local commission to find out about the assistanceavailable to educators in your area. School support ranges fromincentive awards to teacher trainings.Phone: (404) 679-4853Website: www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.orgLocal garden clubs and civic organizationsDont overlook resources that are particular to your commu-nity. Local garden clubs have spearheaded some habitat proj-ects at schools. These projects give persons a chance tobecome directly involved in improving the learning resourcesand campus of schools right in their community.Phone: (706) 227-5369Website: www.uga.edu/gardenclub/ Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 41
  • 44. Evaluating the Success of Your Outdoor ClassroomI f you have followed this guide, you will have done a great deal of work to create an outdoor classroom that will be used as an effective teaching tool for many generations of students and teachers at your school. Of course, each school is different, as well as a place of constant change. Students and parents pass through,teachers and administrators transfer locations and educational requirements are constantly revised. One way tomake sure that your outdoor classroom continues to successfully serve your school is to keep records and con-duct periodic evaluations. The following are some suggestions for finding out whether your outdoor classroomis successfully meeting your schools needs.Academic Success Create an outdoor classroom log for teachers to note use and activities conducted, along with a place to write suggestions or ideas. Keep this log in a central location so that teachers can easily access it. The log can also serve as evidence to your school administrators on how the outdoor classroom is being used. Keep track of data (anecdotal or actual statistics) that shows a correla- tion between improved academic performance and use of the outdoor classroom. Survey teachers annually about their needs and thoughts regarding the outdoor classroom. Is the outdoor classroom functioning as an effective teaching tool? Why or why not? Continue to assess the needs and thoughts of all outdoor classroom users and make changes accordingly. An easy way to do this is by putting out a suggestion box.Site Sustainability Assess your outdoor classroom once a year for any needed repairs or improvements. Be sure to check for the following: Signs of erosion; Health of plantings; Conditions of structures; Definition of paths and gar- den beds; Litter; Vandalism; Nearby safety hazards; Signs of wildlife; and General accessibility. You will need to change your outdoor classroom as time passes to accommodate for all of these factors as time passes. Remain flexible and dont be afraid to change the plan. Integrate the needed repairs and improvements into the long- term plans for your outdoor classroom. Schedule your workdays and inform others of needed donations accordingly. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 42
  • 45. Best Management PracticesHow To Create A Sustainable Schoolyard Wildlife HabitatB est Management Practices (BMPs) are simple, effective methods to create a successful, sustainable Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat. These guidelines are based on continuous learning and experience, and should be periodically evaluated.Start where you are. Assess current school grounds for already existing outdoor classroom possibilities. Consider school expansion and construction plans. Assess needs and interests of all potential outdoor classroom users and stakeholders. These include administrators, teachers, students, maintenance/facilities staff, parents and community members. Assess already available curricula.Make a plan and keep good records. Keep it simple!!! Plan in phases for long term to make project progress realistic. Keep all information and subsequent information centrally located and organized.Get buy-in from school/ community before beginning con-struction. Make sure school administration is invested in the project. Inform local community about the project through press releases to generate support.Support the SWH with fundraisers and sponsors. Plan for a zero budget. Remember that just taking students outside to explore the school grounds is already free. Assess already-available sources of funding and materials. Solicit donations or funding at local level first- school, parents, local community and businesses. Create a network of schools or a school district to solicit local offices of large corporations to increase the likelihood of donations. Research and apply for grants (after you have done all of the previous).Institutionalize the use of your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat. Designate an outdoor classroom coordinator. Arrange annual in-service trainings to train new and refresh or re- inspire already trained teachers. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 43
  • 46. Assign specific areas of the outdoor classroom to specific classes to encourage ownership and break-up maintenance responsibilities. Reward teachers for using/maintaining the outdoor classroom. Provide resources and support for teachers to integrate using outdoor classroom into curriculum and meeting SDU/GPS. Emphasize resources and trainings that focus on teaching existing curriculum in outdoor classrooms (e.g. EIC) Create centrally-located "grab and go" activities or backpacks for teachers to use in outdoor classrooms. Institutionalize communication about outdoor classrooms. Create an annual festival that showcases the outdoor classroom. This will ensure an investment in maintenance and use from school administrators who "want the school to look good" and help recruit volunteers, donations and other resources from the greater community.Evaluate the success of your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat. Remember that learning how to teach effectively out- doors is more important than building or installing outdoor classroom features. Keep track of data, anecdotal or actual statistics that show correlation between improved aca- demic performance and use of the outdoor classroom. Continue to assess the needs of all outdoor classroom users and make changes accordingly.Constructing and maintaining anoutdoor classroomDo not begin construction without doing the previ-ous steps! Be willing to be flexible and accommodatefor changes as they are required. Involve all or asmany students as possible to encourage feelingsof ownership.Create a centrally located maintenance manual as you go.Divide maintenance tasks into multi-age levels for stu-dents. After-school clubs can make maintenance of the out-door classroom their ongoing project. Encourage communityand volunteer groups who can assist with maintenance,particularly during the summer.To learn more about implementing Best Management Practices,see Appendix I: Case Studies. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 44
  • 47. Habitat CalendarListed below is a sample maintenance schedule. Use this calendar to plan for the maintenance of your SchoolyardWildlife Habitat throughout the year. Thanks to Tiger Creek Elementary in Tunnel Hill for some of the ideas below! August September October Clean and fill birdbaths & feed- Take classes on tour of the SWH Fall planting time. Build blue- ers. Refill regularly to keep water to introduce rules and features. bird boxes and install so that fresh. Weed garden areas. Show habitat to parents during new smell will wear off open house. Start habitat scrap- by February. book. Plan for planting in fall, and prepare raised beds. November December January Plant wildflower meadow and Prune shrubs while dormant. Plant tree seedlings but be sure raised bed garden and begin Choose trees for planting; con- that ground is not frozen. You compost pile. tact the Georgia Forestry may need to plant earlier or Commission. Water trees before later. Also prune trees and leaving for the holiday break. shrubs while dormant and clean out bird feeders. February March April Begin monitoring bluebird Plant spring annuals; remember Host Habitat dedication or houses. Hang nesting helpers fundraising. annual celebration. (Have you such as yarn and string on tree Mulch and water as needed. certified your habitat?) branches. Plant tree seedlings. www.nwf.org May June July Plan for summer maintenance. Weed, keep water fresh, fill feed- Weed, keep water fresh, fill feed- Weed, keep water fresh, fill feed- ers, and water trees! ers, and water trees! ers, and water trees!Use this space below for more additions to your calendar and for your own ideas! Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 45
  • 48. Nature GlossarySpeaking the Language of the EnvironmentAnnual: a plant that completes its life cycle, from seed to fruit, in one year or season.Biodiversity: the variety of living things in an area, indicated by the numbers of different species of animalsand plants and small microorganisms.Biotic community: a naturally-occurring assemblage of plants and animals that live in the same environment,are mutually sustaining and interdependent, and are consistently fixing, utilizing and dispensing energy.Canopy: a vegetation layer formed by the leaves and branches of trees and shrubs. There can be several layersof canopy.Corridors: rivers, trails through woodlands and open fields that connect a number of habitats in a contiguousmanner. Wildlife moves along these paths.Deadheading: the removal of faded and dead flower blooms fromannuals and perennials to keep plants producing new blossoms.Deciduous: plants that drop their leaves at the end of thegrowing season, as opposed to evergreen species.Decompose: to break up into basic elements or to rot.Erosion: the wearing away of land by water or wind.Bare soil will erode more quickly than soil protectedby plants and root systems.Ecosystem: a complex self-sustaining natural systemof living organisms existing in an interdependentrelationship with each other and with the nonlivingcomponents of the environment where theyare found.Ecotone: edge between two different ecosystems.Edge effect: the tendency of wildlife to use the areaswhere two vegetative types come together forming anedge. Wildlife diversity is usually greatest along this edgebetween two habitats.Environment: the complex factors that act upon an organism orcommunity and determine its survival. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 46
  • 49. Evergreen: plants which leaves remain green and on the stem all year long as opposed to deciduous plants.Exotic: nonnative or foreign plants or animals that are introduced into an area.Flora: a list of the species of plants that compose the vegetation of an area or region (often incorrectly usedinterchangeably with vegetation)Habitat: the site where a plant or animal normally lives and grows. Also a place that provides food, water, cover,and appropriate space for reproduction.Herbaceous: plants that die back to the ground at the end of the growing season such as a wildflower.Native: local, indigenous; usually grown, produced, or origi-nating in a particular place or vicinity.Organic matter: carbon-based compounds, derivedfrom living organisms.Perennial: a plant that persists for more thantwo years, generally with new herbaceousgrowth from the roots with each newgrowing season.Predator: animal that preys, kills and/oreats other animals.Prey: animal killed by a predator.Riparian: located or living along astream, river or body of water.Root zone: area available in soil for aplant to grow roots.Snag: a standing tree (usually dead) fromwhich the leaves and branches have fallen.Its hollow cavity may be used by wildlifefor nesting.Understory: a layer of the canopy formed bysmaller trees in a forest.Wildlife: living things that are neither humanor domesticated. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 47
  • 50. Appendix A:Outdoor Classroom Needs & Interests Survey For TeachersDear Teachers, Our school is designing an outdoor classroom. This will be a place outside in the schoolyard that hasbeen enhanced for educational purposes. An outdoor classroom can take many forms. For example, it could bea garden to study life cycles, a quiet place to inspire writing, a civics project about land use, a simple buildingproject that uses geometry, or all of the above! In other words, an outdoor classroom is a teaching tool, muchlike a computer, that can be used in many different ways. Please fill out the following 2-page survey and return it to __________________ by this date________so that we can best meet your needs with our design.On a scale from 1 to 5, rate how comfortable you feel about using an outdoor classroom around the followingissues. Please also explain any important comments or suggestions.Issue Uncomfortable Dont Know ComfortableStudent Safety 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Travel Time to Outdoor Classroom 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Teaching My Subject Outdoors 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Maintaining Control of My Class 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Being Physically Comfort Outside 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Knowledge About Natural World 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Other: 1 2 3 4 5Explain: Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 48
  • 51. On a scale of 1 to 5, please rate how important or useful the following would be foryou for use an outdoor classroom. Not Important/Useful Dont Know Important/UsefulTraining on how to use 1 2 3 4 5outdoor classrooms toteach my subjectExplain:Extra chaperones for 1 2 3 4 5taking students outsideExplain:Service learning 1 2 3 4 5opportunities for studentsExplain:Curriculums and activities 1 2 3 4 5for use in the outdoorclassroomExplain:Relevant information 1 2 3 4 5and resources about natureExplain:Outdoor classroom 1 2 3 4 5safety protocolExplain:Outdoor seating/tables 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Other: 1 2 3 4 5Explain:Please circle the types of outdoor classrooms (can be more than one) you would most like to use:nature trail vegetable garden wildlife habitat garden pond/water feature weather stationmeadow compost or recycling area wildlife feeders (ex: bird) gazebo accessible gardenswooded area flower garden arborThank you for taking the time to fill out this survey. If you are interested in getting involved with designing theoutdoor classroom, please contact _____________________________at__________________________. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 49
  • 52. Appendix B:Schoolyard Site Inventory Checklist Site Inventory Task Completed Date of Completion Status1 1 Divide and delegate inventory work between subcommittees and grade levels. 2 Create one central site inventory map or several that note separate features. 3 Begin with a map of the school grounds that includes all pre-existing hardscapes (i.e. buildings, paved roads and walkways). 4 Obtain maps of master plans or projected construction plans for your school. 5 Obtain maps from school maintenance staff about locations of underground cables, wires and pipes. 6 Contact your local Utilities Protection Center for any other under- ground hazards at your school. 7 Locate north, south, eat and west on your maps to determine degrees of exposure to light and heat. 8 Map your school watershed. Search for areas on-site that do and dont drain well. Locate areas of runoff from buildings/paved areas. 9 Monitor and map areas and hours of sun/shade in your schoolyard. 10 Assess and map the soil quality in the potential areas for your gar- den(s). Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service or garden supply center for more information. 11 Map pre-existing walkways and paths. 12 Map the levels of slope in possible outdoor classroom sites. 13 Consider how accessible your outdoor classroom will be. 14 Map sources of water that can be used for irrigation (i.e.sprinkler sys- tem, downspouts, stream, etc.). 15 Survey pre-existing plants, trees and wildlife that are seen on actual school grounds and note their habitat. 16 Map nearby distractions (i.e. noise and frequent activities that cause disturbance while in outdoor classroom. 17 Map any nearby hazards or safety concerns to be avoided. 18 Consider the line of sight and vista offered by your outdoor class- room. Avoid placing classroom next to unappealing areas such as the school dumpster.1Status: NA = not applicable; A = active; O = ongoing; C = completed Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 50
  • 53. Appendix C: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Resource InventoryCheck if your school already has the following. If the resource is not applicable to your project, check “N/A”.Resource Accessible or Available for Use? #/Amt. Available N/ABooksNative Plant GardeningWildlife ManagementNatural Landscaping & DesignOrganic Pest ControlOther:Gardening ToolsShovelsTurning Forks/HoesRakesHand TrowelsOther:IrrigationSpigotSprinkler SystemNearby Indoor Water Source (e.g. classroom sink)HoseRain Gutter or DownspoutNearby Stream or PondOther:EquipmentClipboardsHand LensesActivity BackpacksNets (e.g. Aquatic, Insect, etc.)Field GuidesEnvironmental Ed. Curricula or ResourcesMonitoring Equipment (e.g. Water, Weather, etc.)Other:Already Existing Outdoor Classroom FeaturesNature TrailsOutdoor SeatingFlower GardensVegetable/Herb GardensNative Plant/ Habitat GardensRaised BedsTreesNesting BoxesWildlife FeedersWater Feature (e.g. Pond, Bog, etc.)Gazebo or Covered ShelterAmphitheater or Outdoor StageMeadowForestStream or WetlandMulch PileCompostOther: Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 51
  • 54. Appendix D:Curriculum Connections ChartList objectives that you teach. Then brainstorm ways that you can teach those objectives in theoutdoor classroom. Performance Standard Strategies for Teaching Objective in Outdoor Classroom Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 52
  • 55. Appendix E:Possible Sources for Volunteers, Donations and FundingSources of (Free) Resources: ParentsNative Plant Rescue Groups AmeriCorpsNative Plant Societies Corporate Volunteer GroupsLocal Garden Clubs Adopt-a-Stream and other citizen science initiativesMemorial Donations National Parks ServiceSchool Maintenance Department 4-H(Plants, Tools, or Labor) Local Military (Volunteer Labor on Larger Projects)Corporations (Interns, Employee Volunteers & Services) Outdoor Enthusiasts ClubsPartners in Education Home Owners and Neighborhood AssociationsEagle Scouts Local BusinessesLocal Civic Groups ChurchesUniversity Landscape Architecture and Design Programs ScoutsLocal nurseries High School & College Student Service GroupsVocational Schools/Horticulture Programs RetireesMaster Gardeners (Extension Service) Master GardenersHabitat Stewards (National Wildlife Federation) Habitat Stewards Master NaturalistsSources of Funding: Extension ServiceCommunity Organizations Local MediaCivic Organizations Garden ClubsCommunity Philanthropists Junior LeagueParentsEnvironmental OrganizationsFoundationsLocal Chamber of CommerceBusiness AssociationsLocal BusinessesCorporate SponsorshipCommunity and Volunteer Groups: Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 53
  • 56. Appendix F:Recommended Resources for Habitat and Natural GardeningThe Natural Habitat Garden by Ken Druse and Margaret Roach. 1994. Hardcover, 248 pages. Through 500color photographs, The Natural Habitat Garden introduces readers to 35 gardens that re-create the naturallybalanced plant communities found in each of the four main botanical habitats. Druse helps to define a newhorticultural aesthetic while showing gardeners everywhere how they can recreate the natural havens for birds,butterflies and other wildlife that once made America beautiful. Includes fullcolor photographs.Butterfly Gardening for the South by Geyata Ajilvsgi. 1990. Hardback, 342 pages. A must-have for the butterflygardener, Butterfly Gardening of the South features profiles of 50 southern butterflies and their host and nectarplants. The profiles are detailed and informative and the photos are exquisite. Also includes garden designs andbutterfly-friendly pest controls.Southeastern Wildflowers by Jan W. Midgley. 1999. Paperback. Excellent information on identifying and gar-dening with our native wildflowers. Descriptions also include propagation tips and benefit for wildlife.Attracting Birds To Southern Gardens by T. Pope, N. Odenwald and C. Fryling. 1993. Hardcover, 164 pages.With its unique climate, soil and a longer growing season, the South gives its gardeners a singular opportunityto combine the two most popular outdoor activities in the US: gardening and birding. Covers garden habitats,seasons, bird and plant dictionaries and resources. Over 300 full-color photos.Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife byDavid Mizejewski, National Wildlife Federation BackyardWildlife Habitat® Program. 2003. Paperback, 128 pages.This resource will be of use to teachers and others indeveloping habitat projects at school and at home,providing in-depth information about applyingwildlife-friendly gardening techniques and creatingbasic habitat elements to any size yard or garden.Features illustrated projects, checklists and nativeplant information and 170 color photos of certi-fied habitat landscapes and backyard wildlife.Gardening with Native Plants of the South bySally & Andy Wasowski. 1994. Hardback, 196pgs. The large number of photographs and SallyWasowskis fun, conversational writing style com-bine to make Gardening with Native Plants of theSouth a terrific, reader-friendly primer on nativesouthern plants. Look to this book for creative gar-den designs and easy-to-read plant profiles completewith lists of companion species and notes onwildlife usage. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 54
  • 57. Landscaping With Wildflowers: An Environmental Approach to Gardening by Jim Wilson. 1993. Paperback. Apractical guide to the newest trend in gardening by the star of The Victory Garden. Gardeners concerned withconserving nature are increasingly interested in growing wildflowers and saving or recreating natural land-scapes. Wilson shows how to incorporate wildflowers into gardens in every part of the country. 100color photographs.Natural Gardening by John Kadel Boring (Editor), Erica Glasener, Glenn Keator, Jim Knop, R.J. Turner(Editor). 1996. Hardcover. This richly illustrated, informative guide to gardening explains how to create a wel-coming habitat for a wide variety of wild creatures through the use of an environmentally friendly collection ofnative vegetation.Landscaping with Nature: Using Natures Designs to Plan Your Yard by Jeff Cox, Marilyn Cox (Contributor).1996. Paperback. A garden transformation workbook, this text teaches readers a new way to garden--by work-ing with nature to design a landscape. Detailed instructions for using nature©s patterns or color schemes in agarden design, gardening for wildlife, landscaping with stones and/or water and using native plants are com-bined with basic instruction. 80 color photos. 75 illustrations.Natural Landscaping: Gardening with Nature to Create a Backyard Paradise by Sally Roth. 1997. Hardcover,256 pages. Showing readers how to create their own woodland gardens, shade gardens, wildflower meadows,prairie gardens and songbird gardens, Natural Landscaping is packed with real-life examples, garden plans, col-orful combinations, at-a-glance plant charts and more. Includes regional coverage and plant recommendations.250 color photos. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 55
  • 58. Appendix G:Recommended Online Resources for Habitat and Natural GardeningGeorgia Wildlife Federation (www.gwf.org)Guides for creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide, lists of work-shops and classes, related articles, grants, and contacts to find volunteers for your project.KidsGardening (www.kidsgardening.com)Tips for students, parents, & teachers who spend time in the garden.Evergreen (www.evergreen.ca)Canadian site promotes healthier and greener homes, schools and communities, including aparticipant registry.Adventures in Birding (www.birdingadventuresinc.com)Atlanta-based ornithologist and educator provide excellent information on bird watching, attracting birds toyour garden, and creating a habitat.American Horticultural Society (www.ahs.org)Provides a wealth of information and resources on all topics having to do with gardening, including a wholeYouth Gardening section.Avant-Gardening (www.avant-gardening.com)Encourages sustainable, creative ways to do organic gardening.Georgia Native Plant Society (www.gnps.org)Promotes the appreciation and use of native plants andhabitats; site lists meetings, garden tours and activities, andreputable native plant sources.Georgia Perimeter College Botanical GardenWildflower Center of Georgia(www.gpc.edu/~ddonald/botgard/george3.htm)Features photos from the garden and information onthe colleges free lecture series on native plant topics.Carolina Gardener Magazine(www.carolinagardener.com)Monthly publication offering a variety ofgardening topics.Floating Habitats(www.members.aol.com/Tjacmc/index.html)Floating Habitats for ponds and lakes construction plansand use instructions. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 56
  • 59. National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org/backyardwildlifehabitat)Information and certification forms for your wildlife habitat; also offers a variety of education materials and aregistry of participating schools.Project Wildlife (www.projectwildlife.org/gardens.htm)Provides additional information on creating wild gardens.National Gardening Association (www.garden.org)Interactive database of gardening articles, how-to tips and ideas, and dictionary.Organic Gardening (www.organicgardening.com)This magazine promotes organic, wildlife-friendly methods and techniques in gardening.Georgia Organics (www.georgiaorganics.org)Provides a online directory of retailers and organic farmers that sell supplies and equipment fororganic gardening.Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (www.wildflower.org)A clearinghouse promoting native plants through education programs.Native Plant Conservation Initiative (www.nps.gov/plants)Technical information of native plants and current conservation issues.USDA PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov)The PLANTS Database is a single source of standardized information about plants, featuring state plant check-lists, and plant profiles; also information on native plants, exotic invasives, and wetlands plants.Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, Ltd(www.for-wild.org)Landscaping using native species indeveloping plant communities educa-tional materials, grants andconference announcements.The Foundation Center(www.fdncenter.org)Provides education and trainingon the grantseeking process, anddisseminates information forgrantseekers through its website.Council on Foundations(www.cof.org)COF provides numerous online linksto publications and resources thataid grantseekers. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 57
  • 60. Appendix H:Additional Outdoor Classroom ResourcesGeorgia Outdoor Classroom Council (OCC)www.eealliance.org/occ%20symposium/about_occ.htmOCC, a subcommittee of EEA (see below), is a coalition of organizations and individuals sharing an interest inthe design, development, maintenance and use of outdoor classrooms. Its mission is to serve teachers, parents,principals and community volunteers as a resource link, providing up-to-date training and literature. Each year,the OCC organizes an annual symposium aimed at helping schools develop and use their school property as ateaching area.The Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia (EEA)www.eealliance.orgEEA works to promote environmental education by providing opportunities for member organizations,schools, and the general public to get involved through the annual EEA conference, member newsletter, envi-ronmental events posted on its Web site, and teacher resource directory.The Online Guide to Environmental Education in Georgiawww.EEinGeorgia.orgA website designed to build statewide capacity for environmental education by providing: environmental edu-cation (EE) lesson plans based on Georgias Performance Standards (GPS), a searchable directory of GeorgiasEE providers and the resources they offer, a statewide calendar of EE events, EE news and easy-to-access factsabout Georgias environment.Schoolyard Habitats® Programwww.nwf.org/schoolyardhabitats/educatorresources.cfmNational Wildlife Federation offers curriculums, planningguides, grants and other resources for turning schoolyardsinto wildlife habitat.EICwww.eeingeorgia.org/eicUsing the Environment as an Integrating Contextfor Learning is a school improvement processdeveloped by the State Education andEnvironment Round Table (SEER). According toSEERs nation-wide study, EIC results inimproved academic achievement, classroombehavior and instructional practices. In Georgia,teams of teachers, administrators, communityorganizations representatives and EIC coaches areselected and trained to implement the EIC Modelin their schools. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 58
  • 61. Appendix I:Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats - Case StudiesT he Georgia Community Greenspace Program identified the 55 fastest growing counties in the state. In 2004, Georgia Wildlife Federation invited teachers from these counties to attend the Schoolyard Ecology and Greenspace Symposium at the Alcovy Conservation Center. The 12 schools who participated in thisconference guided the GWF in the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for creating sustainableSchoolyard Wildlife Habitats.In 2005, each of the 12 schools formed teams consisting of parents, teachers, administrators, grounds staff andcommunity partners. GWF worked with the wildlife habitat teams to create new or enhance existing schoolyardwildlife habitats, implementing the BMPs developed during the symposium.After one year, 11 of the 12 schools reported on their accomplishments and challenges. The following casestudies were developed from these reports.Barnwell Elementary (Alpharetta, Fulton County)2005 Accomplishments: Included in the strategic plan for Barnwell Elementary is a mandate for each teacher to use the outdoor classroom at least once a month. Records are kept and lessons are shared. Two classes were offered for teachers: Native Seasons and Project Learning Tree. Outdoor Expressions, LLC donated time and talent of a master designer to refine the master plan creat- ed by the school and assisted with the signage and hardscape.Best Management Practices Incorporated: Barnwell created an online folder to keep information about the plan and map of the outdoor class- room. Teachers meet regularly to discuss use of the outdoor classroom.Difficulties Encountered: Barnwell learned that everything took longer than anticipated. The PTA hired landscaping maintenance help. This crew did not have knowledge of the master plan.Dekalb Alternative School (Stone Mountain, DeKalb County)2005 Accomplishments: Two butterfly gardens and other beds were planted around the perimeter of the campus.Best Management Practices Incorporated: The Outdoor Garden team conducted a site assessment and inventory, and drew plans for the outdoor classroom. Monthly meetings were held to discuss outdoor classroom use.Difficulties Encountered: The teachers did not have enough time to develop interdisciplinary lesson plans across the curriculum. A partnership was developed with Stone Mountain Park instructors to assist the teachers in incorporat- ing gardening activities and events into their curriculum. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 59
  • 62. Dunwoody Springs Charter Elementary (Dunwoody, Fulton County)2005 Accomplishments: An outdoor classroom was incorporated into the charter proposal for the school. A survey of needs was done that included teachers, administration, custodial workers, and the community. An outdoor class- room committee and sub-committees were formed.Best Management Practices Incorporated: Dunwoody Springs involved everyone in the school as well as the community to gain support for their project. They purchased backpacks and stocked them with field glasses, magnifiers, trowels, bug boxes, field guides to plants and birds, and other things to be used in an outdoor classroom.Difficulties Encountered: At first it was difficult to get teacher involvement because of their busy schedules. With the support of parents and others in the community they were able to overcome this.East Jackson Middle School (Commerce, Banks County)2005 Accomplishments: During 2005, East Jackson constructed and installed 10 bluebird houses. They educated community members about Georgia native birds, feeding birds and using field guides. A pergola, shaded by red cedar and trumpet vines, was constructed as a student reading area.Best Management Practices Incorporated: East Jackson gained support for the schoolyard habitat from their county supervisors. They established a partnership with Commerce Hardware to help with funding. The outdoor area was placed in an area accessible to everyone. They used plants which required very little maintenance.Difficulties Encountered: The "call before you dig" staff did not come to mark the territory on the day work was to begin. They resolved the issue by contacting the county technology director and maintenance supervisor who gave the school permission to dig.Gainesville Exploration Academy (Gainesville, Hall County)2005 Accomplishments: Gainesville Exploration Academy built 16 raised bed gardens and grew broccoli, flowers, herbs, a dog- wood tree, strawberries, onions, and 250 bulbs received from the National Gardening Association. They put out 6 bird feeders and 2 bird baths, built 8 garden benches and made stepping stones for a garden walkway. For their efforts they received a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat certi- fication.Best Management Practices Incorporated: Community support was enlisted from Georgia Power who supplied manual labor to build the raised beds. Even Start parents helped with plantings and GAP (high school girls) planted a butterfly garden. An outdoor classroom committee was formed to plan literature-based outdoor activities. The kinder- garten class was put in charge of refilling bird fillers, fifth graders were put in charge of caring for the atrium plants, and ten classrooms helped to plant bulbs.Difficulties Encountered: They encountered difficulty finding parents who would help with the physical labor. Two garden work days were planned but no parents showed up. The school then called on Georgia Power volunteers to get the work done. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 60
  • 63. Huntley Hills Elementary and Montessori School (Chamblee, DeKalb County)2005 Accomplishments: During 2005 Huntley Hills built steps to the woodlands behind the school, transferred Monarch cater- pillars to milkweed plants in the courtyard and conducted lessons on the butterfly life cycle, set up an environmental committee, developed backpack kits for teachers and volunteers to aid in conducting outdoor classroom lessons and held a Migratory Bird Festival in the fall.Best Management Practices Incorporated: They conducted a "needs and interests assessment" of teachers and administrators at the end of the school year and implemented changes based on the results of the survey. They also hosted a teacher training in the school.Difficulties Encountered: The only difficulties encountered were those of the "first time" nature such as arranging a time when committee members could meet and deciding on the various activities that would take place during the Migratory Bird Festival. It was also difficult to reach a consensus about the details of the essay contest.Kimberly Elementary School (Atlanta)2005 Accomplishments: The students and faculty at Kimberly Elementary School built raised beds for vegetable plots, weeded and maintained a butterfly garden, started seeds indoors that were transplanted to outdoor gardens and conducted schoolyard investigations and observations.Best Management Practices Incorporated: An assessment was done on the existing school areas and resources to determine what could be used in a schoolyard classroom. Students completed a map and site inventory of the schoolyard.Difficulties Encountered: Teachers were too busy to find time to maintain the gardens. To overcome this, teachers worked with Hands on Atlanta, parents and community members to form a garden work day.Mt.Yonah Elementary (Sautee, White County)2005 Accomplishments: Mt. Yonah developed a master plan for six specific garden areas. The initial phase was the construction of two raised beds for the planting of a small winter garden. Soil samples were taken and a lesson was conducted on plant needs. Spinach, radishes, collards, mustard and turnips were planted and tended throughout the fall and winter. Work was begun on a butterfly garden.Best Management Practices Incorporated: A comprehensive site plan was developed with the assistance of several master gardeners, a botanist and a horticulturist. The entire school was involved in the creation of six specific garden areas to be main- tained and managed by each grade level.Difficulties Encountered: The incredibly poor soil posed problems. The school contacted the local county extension office to help break up the soil since the school is new, and the surrounding area had been used as a construction refuse site.North Springs High School (Sandy Springs, Fulton County)2005 Accomplishments: North Springs High School formed a partnership with Keep Sandy Springs-North Fulton Beautiful to implement their vision of a beneficial, project-based learning outdoor classroom. Students identified specimen trees as a focal point of the classroom. They secured tree information suitable for installation in the outdoor lab and ordered tree identification plaques. Research was done to choose activities and experiments for the outdoor classroom and teachers selected appropriate books. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 61
  • 64. Best Management Practices Incorporated: Students were involved in the process of tree identification and trail clearing. They also planted native saplings to enhance the outdoor classroom and to prevent erosion down a steep, bare slope near the classroom. Teachers incorporated usage of the outdoor classroom as an integral part of their lessons. Environmental Science classes and AP Environmental Science lessons were taught in the outdoor class- room. Science, Technology and Society classes met regularly in the outdoor classroom to discuss envi- ronmental stewardship and conservation. Biology classes used the outdoor classroom to discuss plant structure, reproduction and taxonomy.Difficulties Encountered: The teacher originally identified as the lead on the outdoor classroom project was reassigned to a differ- ent school. After a relatively long dormant period, a new teacher was assigned. A key staff person was on extended medical leave, resulting in a series of miscommunications about the goals of the outdoor classroom. A key student graduated in 2005 and had to be replaced. Entirely different classes are taught in the fall and spring. To take advantage of the blooming wildflowers and leafing of trees, all environmental science classes are taught in the spring. Therefore, the outdoor classroom was underutilized in the fall and winter.Norton Park Elementary (Smyrna, Cobb County)2005 Accomplishments: Norton Park Elementary assessed the needs of teachers and students, designed a plan and gathered materials for an outdoor classroom, set up teams of volunteers and students, and held a Migratory Bird Festival.Best Management Practices Incorporated: Norton Park conducted a parent/teacher survey to assess needs and interests, and created a summer vol- unteer schedule involving more than one person.Difficulties Encountered: The county put the outdoor classroom project on hold due to new construction activity already under- way on the campus. This was later resolved.Oakhurst Elementary (Decatur, Decatur City Schools)2005 Accomplishments: Nine classes at Oakhurst Elementary conducted site inventories, learned the four elements of habitat, drew class maps for nine essential elements, established a butterfly habitat garden on school grounds, and planted 5 native trees. A curriculum committee was formed to link the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat to the school systems new strategic plan, earning a $4,000 grant for the project.Best Management Practices Incorporated: Oakhurst began their project by making a topographical map of the schools existing resources. They next developed a simple piece of the larger plan, the butterfly garden. Students, teachers and the princi- pal were involved in the planning and decision making. The students studied native wildlife and their habitats.Difficulties Encountered: One challenge was identifying the boundary between the schoolyard and the adjacent city park. This problem was resolved through a meeting with Decaturs grounds coordinator. Another challenge was creating a curriculum committee because teachers could not find time in their schedules. The school involved a curriculum specialist in linking the state standards. This curriculum specialist became an ambassador to teachers representing the project. Teachers were encouraged to write up successful lesson plans and add them to an Outdoor Classroom notebook that was shared by all other teachers. Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide 62