Raft River Elementary Pollinator Garden
Our vision for Canada is… to empower students to become stewards of the land through hands on learning experiences and by taking action. Our project addresses the importance of pollinators in our local environment. Our school has a school vegetable garden and has been learning about where our food comes from. Adding a pollinator garden on our school grounds will help our garden by providing a source of pollen and nectar to local pollinators. Our garden will also help replace natural wildflowers that are destroyed by urbanization and development and provide a healthy food source for local pollinators that may be affected by the adverse effects of pesticides and monoculture. By attracting local pollinators, students will have an opportunity to observe natural pollinators and increase their connection to the natural world. This is an important issue in our community because we are surrounded by nature and wilderness and we want to ensure that our children remain curious and connected with the natural, outside world.
Mrs. Shook’s grade 3 class has taken on the task of building a pollinator garden at our school. The first step was a research project on pollinators which involved creating a website ,visiting a real beehive and local plant nursery and designing a garden plan. Thanks to a grant from EcoLeague, we were able to purchase the plants and landscaping materials for our pollinator garden. Our garden will create habitat and a food source for local pollinators. The presence of pollinators in our school yard will help increase the yield of our school vegetable garden. Students at our school will have the opportunity to observe and learn about local pollinators up close. The learning opportunity will be hands on, play based and outside! Cultural dimensions include learning about local plants and animals and increasing student connections with the outside world. This project highlights youth leadership by including all students in the school and giving them a role to play in the garden. For example, the kindergartens were given zinnia plants and cosmo seeds to plant in the garden. This will become a yearly tradition for the kindergartens at our school as they will collect the seeds from these plants in the fall, plant them in the classroom in early spring and then transplant the plants into the garden. The grade 3 class will maintain and weed the garden each year with the help of community members and parents. The grade 7 class will be invited to join the grade 3’s as they walk up to the high school and watch high school student cut out wooden butterflies and bees that will then be painted by the grade 3’s and attached to the fence around the pollinator garden by the grade 7’s. This will allow the grade 7’s to leave a legacy for their elementary school before moving up to the high school next year. All students in our school will have the opportunity to observe the action in the pollinator garden during their free play time.The garden will have paths and large flat rocks to encourage students to hang out and walk through the garden. Teachers at our school will be able to plan science lessons that connect with our garden. For example, some classes in our school have ordered butterfly larvae to hatch into Painted Lady Butterflies and they will be released into the pollinator garden this spring. A student in our school has built and donated a Mason Bees house to the garden and will be talking to the grade three classes about Mason Bees. In June each year our school will hold a whole school picnic coinciding with the day of the honeybee on June 29th. This year will be our first picnic and we will be celebrating our finished pollinator garden.
Reflection & Celebration
Our project is still in progress. The ground has been broken and our plants have been purchased. The students are excited and very knowledgable about the importance of local pollinators. We are waiting for our soil to arrive from the maintenance department. Our biggest challenge has been waiting and being patient while we work with other groups and involve as many people as possible so that everyone feels ownership of our garden. We have learned which plants attract pollinators and which pollinators are native to our area. We will continue to maintain the plants in our garden by weeding, harvest seeds from the annuals to plant each spring and adding habitat and educational features.