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Georgia Schoolyard WildlifeHabitat Planning GuideSchoolyard Wildlife Habitats are a part of a largermovement to use the na...
Table of ContentsPlanning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom Last .........................................................
Planning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom LastAn Introduction to the Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning GuideI    n ...
What is a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat?A       Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat is an outdoor laboratory alive with learning opp...
Getting StartedPlanning & Organizing Your Schoolyard Wildlife HabitatC        reate a Schoolyard Habitat Project Notebook ...
No Help? Try thisQuick-and-Easy School Gardens for the Lone Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat CrusaderThe best Schoolyard Wildli...
Form Your Wildlife Habitat CommitteeT       he committee positions and responsibilities listed on the following page have ...
Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Committee MembersDate: _______________________________Habitat Project Leader:                 ...
Evaluate Your Campus“What Have We Got To Work With On Campus and How Does It Support Wildlife?”T       he best way to star...
Making A Plan“How Can We Enhance Our Campus For Education and Wildlife Habitat?”N      ow that you have a clearer understa...
Establish a project schedule and budget.Break down the habitat project into steps: develop a materials                    ...
Many schools successfully assign responsibility for maintenance of outdoor classrooms to an existing PTA com-mittee such a...
Beginning the Design ProcessT      he next step is to create a design for your schoolyard habitat. In order to accomplish ...
Getting Buy-in Before You BuildC        reating an outdoor classroom is often an exciting prospect to teachers, students a...
Incorporate environmental education training into the Teachers Professional Learning Plan offered at         your school.1...
Community Members and Volunteers         Make an easily accessible maintenance guide for your outdoor classroom as you go....
Basic Elements of HabitatB      egin your Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat with some easy steps. You can address all habitat el...
Raised-Bed GardeningNature Right Outside Your DoorA      raised-bed garden is simply a raised area of soil framed by board...
How To Create a Butterfly GardenA Special from Callaway GardensC       reating a butterfly garden is an exciting and rewar...
Butterflies and PlantsB      utterflies depend on plants in many ways. The most successful butterfly gardens include plant...
Shrubs and Vines That Attract HummingbirdsV        ines and shrubs provide food as well as natural cover and nesting habit...
More on BirdsFeedersT      he ideal Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat includes plants which provide food all year. However, this...
Birdhouse Specifications For Common Georgia Cavity-NestersBird           Interior     Depth Entrance Entrance Hole       H...
How To Properly Plant TreesA Special From The Georgia Forestry CommissionSite Selection for Tree PlantingT       he surviv...
Native TreesYear-round Food and Cover For A Variety of Wildlife SpeciesLarge Trees                                        ...
Wildflower MeadowsThe No-Mow AlternativeC       reating a meadow on your campus is as simple as stopping mowers in an area...
Theme GardensA Special From Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Botanical GardenA       s you and your students plan your garden, ...
All About Rain GardensA Special from www.cleanwatercampaign.orgWhat Is a Rain Garden?Rain gardens are beautiful natural la...
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide
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Transcript of "GA: Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide"

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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