Kids Dig in the Dirt to Save Pollinators

Pollinators are in peril, but with the help of Union Elementary they will have a safe home in Upshur County, West Virginia. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife Program in West Virginia teamed up with Union Elementary to install the program’s first schoolyard habitat pollinator garden in the state.

West Virginia Field Office AmeriCorps members, Aeriel Wauhob and Tom Fletcher, designed, organized, and installed a new Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat project using funding from the USFWS Monarch Initiative. Nearly 300 kindergarten through 5th grade students, at Union Elementary School in Upshur County helped to transform the front lawn of their school into pollinator garden using native seeds and perennials.

Union Elementary students and staff in newly finished pollinator garden.

Students started each day with a short presentation on who pollinators are, how they help grow our food, and the threats they face every day. The installation was a two day process. Kindergartners through 2nd graders leading the way by lending a hand and foot to prep the area for planting of flowers and stomping native seeds into the ground. The second day of the install consisted of 3rd through 5th graders learning how to transplant flowers and work as a team to spread mulch.

Every child at Union Elementary had the chance to get their hands dirty learning about native plants and gardening techniques to encourage pollinators to visit. All grades helped, from planting wildflower seeds, weeding and digging, to mulching and watering!

To add more of a personal touch, each class designed a stepping stone that would be placed around a sitting area with a bench. The 4th graders enjoyed breaking dishes to make mosaic tiles for the class designs. The stones featured pollinators such as birds and butterflies, along with the plants they seek like flowers and trees.

This inspiring project will be a gateway for similar accomplishments connecting children with nature throughout the state. The pollinator garden was an effort made possible by Nick Millett – Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife, Aeriel Wauhob & Tom Fletcher – AFHA AmeriCorps, Russ McClain – Center for Sustainability Studies of Davis & Elkins College, and Dr. Stankus – Union Elementary Garden Committee.

Left to Right: Nick Millett, Russ McClain, Tom Fletcher, & Aeriel Wauhob

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