Native Species Planting

Somerset Intermediate School, 7th grade Sharks Team, Somerset County, Cindy Lloyd,

Students focused on how they could positively impact the ecosystems neighboring our school building. They developed questions to ask an expert guest speaker and read and used information about species native to our region in order to understand the importance of planting them in our environment. The expert demonstrated proper planting techniques and considerations and then students planted native species.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?

We had a brand new school with no landscaping or plantings and we needed to be careful about what we planted so that it positively impacted our environment. Our school and community were helped by this project, as our building borders a tributary to the Annamessex River. We needed to be sure that other species, animals, and plants would also be positively impacted by our project.

Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

Science and language arts were the two biggest areas of focus. In 7th Grade Science Standard 6, Environmental Science had many indicators that were taught through our project including:
  • Recognize and explain the impact of a changing human population on the use of natural resources and on environmental quality;
  • Recognize and describe that environmental changes can have local, regional, and global consequences.
  • In language arts students identified and explained the main idea, summarized, and explained how someone might use the text with articles on native and non-native species.

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?

Students participated in discussions about how each component of the project helped them in choosing what species to plant, where to plant, how to plant, etc. Students wrote letters as a native species to humans describing their importance to our environment. At the end of the project students wrote informational articles about the project for local newspapers.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?

Students were given a general overview of the project and then directed to develop their own questions for our expert community partner. They had to determine what knowledge they needed. They then were given time with the expert in a discussion forum so they could have their questions answered. They were also responsible for planting and maintaining the plants until the end of the year.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?

Bartlett Tree Experts helped us by giving materials, time, and expertise.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?

We spoke to Bartlett Tree Experts, our schools Green Committee, and the local school administration. We also did some fundraising to earn money for the purchase of plants. We focused our project around the essential question: What can we do to positively impact the ecosystem neighboring our school building? Then we developed lessons, gathered materials, and helped in executing the project.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?

  • Knowledge of native and non-native species, as well as the pro’s and con’s of both in our local environment or other environments.
  • Knowledge of different climate/growing regions.
  • Knowledge of considerations for planting, soil, sun, moisture, spacing, etc.
  • Gardening skills and use of related equipment.
  • How to take care of and maintain native species.
  • Possible careers related to landscaping.