Schoolyard Habitats, Outdoor Classrooms, Wildlife Gardens – whatever you call them, providing a place for wildlife in your schoolyard can provide a host of benefits.
For teachers and students, a schoolyard habitat can provide a place for hands-on learning of biology, math, Nebraska history, soils, art, and a diverse list of other subjects.
For school administrators, a schoolyard habitat can reduce the gas, herbicides and pesticides used to manage a schoolyard, and can make the area more attractive.
For the community, a schoolyard habitat can provide a natural area to walk or bike.
For wildlife, a schoolyard habitat area can provide a place to live, to raise young, and to thrive.
The same principles that work for creating a place for wildlife in your backyard work in a schoolyard. The right combination of native plants and water can provide food, cover, and shelter that will attract butterflies, birds, bunnies, interesting insects, and other wildlife to teach, inspire and entertain.
A permanent pond can provide a place for fish, while a semi-permanent pond or wetland area can support amphibians like frogs and toads.
If you are thinking about bringing a Schoolyard Habitat to your school or making better use of natural areas already there, there are some tools to help you:
* Nebraska Wildlife Federation’s Guide to Nebraska Schoolyard Habitat Areas (contact our office for more information).
National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program can help you incorporate a schoolyard habitat area into a broader school curriculum, and can provide other ideas for greening your school.
Schoolyard Habitat Areas are valuable for students, teachers, parents, and the community, so let’s make sure every Nebraska school has one!
Photos by Rosemary Thornton and Mike Coe