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February 23, 2011

As pollinator numbers are in decline, PLT and USFS support youth-planted gardens

Photo by Flickr's Growingwildfarm

Photo by Flickr's Growingwildfarm

A decline in the numbers and health of pollinators such as bees, birds, and butterflies poses a threat to biodiversity, global food webs and human health.

To help stem the decline, Project Learning Tree® (PLT) and the U.S. Forest Service have engaged students across the country with 28 grants for projects in 20 states.

As part of the PollinatorLIVE program, supported by the U.S. Forest Service and the Prince William Network, PLT’s GreenWorks! PollinatorLIVE garden grants enable students to develop gardens where pollinators can thrive.

This spring, as students take the lead in growing these gardens, they learn about the value and importance of pollinators, help beautify their communities and get to spend more time outdoors.

Announced today, the grants were awarded through a competitive process the involved students from the very beginning. Read the national press release here.

The awardees include the following projects:

• In Reno, Nevada, students are creating a pollinator garden with native plants at Urban Roots Farm, a nonprofit that fosters a sense of place in Reno’s young people. The students will use the garden to study Nevada’s ecology and the challenges that climate change poses to plant and animal life. Teachers will use PLT curriculum materials to support and enhance “citizen-scientist” projects back at their own schools.

• In Nacogdoches, Texas, the Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, Latino Legacy, and other partners sponsor Niños del Jardin (Children of the Garden). Fourth and fifth grade English-language learners and their families will create two gardens. In addition to the educational and environmental benefits, “the gardens will bring the community together, create connections, get children outside, and create more avenues for face-to-face interaction,” said project coordinator Lyndi Long.

• In Manassas, Virginia, middle-school students at New Dominion Alternative Education Center will create a pollinator garden in the shape of a butterfly, as well as two raised beds to grow vegetables. The school serves a diverse population of at-risk students from throughout the region. According to project organizers Joy Greene and Cynthia Zorn-Pettigrew, the garden will serve as a focal area for the school and allow the students to investigate the positive changes they can make in the environment.

• In Madison, Wisconsin, high school students at Goodman Community Center will plant and maintain a garden, butterfly house, and beehive. In addition to these students, who are in a grounds and maintenance job-training program, the garden will be used by preschool, elementary, and middle school youth involved in other Goodman Center programs. A beekeeper has agreed to bring in a new queen for the hive, and the honey collected will be served in the center’s student-run café!

GreenWorks! is PLT’s service-learning program that engages PLT educators, students, and their communities in “learning-by-doing” neighborhood improvement projects. In this round of grants, funded by the U.S. Forest Service, PLT has partnered with PollinatorLIVE, a distance learning initiative that focuses on pollinators, gardening, and conservation.

Since 1992, Project Learning Tree has distributed nearly $1 million to fund almost 1,000 grant projects in communities across the country.

Learn more about past GreenWorks! grantees on the Project Learning Tree website.

By Jackie Stallard (February 23rd, 2011) from the American Forest Foundation

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