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Create a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat

Planting a Tree

National Wildlife Federation offers numerous resources to assist you with creating and using a Certified Wildlife Habitat™ in your educational setting.

Basic Steps to Creating a Schoolyard Habitat

1. Start a Habitat Team

The Habitat Team is composed of educators, students, parents, maintenance personnel, administrators and community volunteers. Every member of the team brings their own skills. Some will focus on how to garden, others might figure out what parts of the curriculum can be served by the wildlife habitat, or what animal visitors to expect.

2. Choose A Site

Let's get students and other team members to study and map out the potential garden. Everyone can participate by either writing or drawing:

  • physical elements (soil, topography, water sources, drainage patterns, sun and wind exposure),
  • ecological components (plants and animals, including insects),
  • human influences (buildings, sidewalks, playing fields, utility right-of-ways and asphalt areas),
  • boundaries (including nearby habitats).

It's also fun to learn about the history of your site. How was the land used before your students arrived? Students might interview long-time community residents and conduct other research.

When you choose your site, make sure it's great for wildlife and people. All wildlife requires food, water, cover, and places to reproduce and raise their young. Make it accessible for classes to use and for community members to visit.

3. Create a Work Plan

Careful planning will help your habitat project run smoothly. Elements like goals, task assignment, resource inventory, and tracking progress will divide and organize the workload into manageable steps.

4. Involve the Community

The creation of a schoolyard habitat is an excellent opportunity to reach out to the community members and invite their participation. To build support for your project, introduce your community to the contributions that the habitat site can make to enrich the school's educational offerings. The schoolyard habitat can be a benefit to the entire community as a public place for all to visit and enjoy.

You may find assistance in your community from a wide variety of sources:

  • landscape architects ready for a new challenge
  • local businesses willing to donate plants, landscape materials and expertise
  • garden and civic clubs excited to offer their knowledge and hands-on involvement.

5. Certify Your Schoolyard Habitat

When you're ready, fill out this online application and add your habitat to the thousands of backyards, parks, businesses, and other schools that provide habitat for wildlife through National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat program.

These are but a few suggestions for making the link between your project and the community, be creative and don't be afraid to ask! The material contributions, in-kind support and resource connections will be invaluable to your project and will help strengthen school-community ties.

Schoolyard Habitat Webinars

How To Guide
Green Your School
10 Million Kids Outdoors
circle of friends
Take learning outside with NWF's habitat themed activities
Discover which plants are native to your region