Friday, May 31, Garrison School students, teachers and Eco Mom volunteers took part in a ceremony to place identification markers next to plants and trees in the Native Garden located in the school’s front courtyard. Students from several grades participated and the process took a year to complete.
The project began when local landscape architect Anne Symmes and the original Eco Moms, a Garrison School PTA group, transformed the courtyard from rocks and weeds to a native garden. As a result of the group’s commitment, Symmes was able to obtain a National Wildlife Federation certification for the garden as a native wildlife garden. When Garrison mom and Environmental Educator Cathy Bakker joined the team, she launched a project in which students would research and identify the native plants and trees with both the Latin and common names.
To support the project, Bakker and the Eco Kids raised $500 from the sales of eco-friendly products at school events. Local artist Debbie Haviland and Garrison School art teacher Coulter Young teamed up to help students create colorful plant-identification plaques. Bakker and Symmes met with teacher Leslie D’Onofrio to create a map of the plants in the garden.
Each student selected one or two plants and flowers, researched their traits and created a poster about the specimen. At the May 31 ceremony, third-graders presented their plants to an audience, and sixth- and seventh-graders worked with the third-graders to use the map to place each plaque with its corresponding plant.
“The Garrison School has this beautiful wildlife garden, a learning center within the school that is accessible for students to explore,” said Bakker. “The plants in this garden attract other native species such as butterflies and birds and represent an ecosystem that hasn’t been infiltrated by invasive species.”