Wildlife Federation gives school award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2002

Environmental studies have become important in elementary schools and Austin's are no exception.

Earlier this week, Southgate Principal Dan Posthumus announced the school has been awarded a certificate of achievement from the National Wildlife Federation for its schoolyard habitat.

The award recognizes Southgate's work in transforming its grounds into a "habitat that's friendly for animals and beautiful to look at," says fourth-grade teacher Lisa Deyo.

Email newsletter signup

Fourth-grade teacher Bill Kinney explains the evolution of Southgate's grounds began in 1995 when the school created a partnership with Tree Trust, a non-profit group that has worked to establish natural habitats in school settings.

The group's goal, says third-grade teacher Bonnie Ripple, "is to have hands-on learning for children and to teach them life-long skills about environmental stewardship."

The project started with planting trees and shrubs and setting up bird feeders and nesting boxes, but now includes flowering plants, a prairie restoration project and a tree nursery. "We started out and, no pun intended, grew from there, through the hard work of everyone," Kinney says. He mentions Stivers Nursery in Austin and the city's Park and Recreation Department as two major contributors of supplies and help for the project.

And of course, there are the kids. "The students definitely have ownership of the project," Deyo says. Once a year, in the spring, the students spend a day "digging holes, planting, weeding and pruning," to expand and improve the school's landscape, Deyo says. "To think the kids did it all is so cool."

Posthumus says the recognition is "something we're very proud of … it's a wonderful thing to celebrate. It means a lot to the teachers and students who have worked on it and it validates how important the project is to the community."

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at amanda.rohde@austindailyherald.com