A collaboration between the National Wildlife Federation, Springfield Public Schools, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, and the LEGO® Community Fund U.S.
Thanks to the continued generous support of the LEGO Community Fund U.S., the National Wildlife Federation is collaborating with the Springfield Public School District in Springfield, Massachusetts, on the development of 25 schoolyard gardens to support monarch and pollinator recovery and expand the curriculum to include a series of PreK lessons. This is the second grant that the National Wildlife Federation has received from the LEGO Community Fund. The first grant created The Monarch Mission curriculum and supported the development of 25 monarch and pollinator recovery gardens throughout the state of Connecticut in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA).
These gardens will not only provide much needed habitat for monarch butterflies and other important pollinators, but will serve as key outdoor classrooms and learning centers for students to engage in what the National Wildlife Federation calls Green STEM: environment-based learning to increase students' experiences and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
As part of the program, each of the schools participated in a day-long professional development training held at the Environmental Center for Our Schools (ECOS) headquarters in Springfield. Educators learned about the ecology and habitat needs of pollinators, plant and pollinator relationships, how to assess their own school grounds for wildlife habitat, and how to develop a plan of action for their Monarch Recovery Gardens. They were also introduced to the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA and Schoolyard Habitats® programs, which will provide them with a guiding framework and resources to implement the program at their schools. Educators were armed and ready with resources and knowledge to go back to their schools and engage their students in monarch recovery. Schools also received a $500 action grant to be used in the development of their gardens.
The Monarch Mission program has been developed to be a long-term program for the schools. Specific PreK-12 curriculum is available that provides long-term learning experiences that will allow students to:
The LEGO Community Fund U.S. will also support the program with a number of employee-based volunteers who will work with the schools in the fall and engage with students through hands-on activities and garden-related programming.
CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, Connecticut, is participating in the Monarch Mission Program. Last spring they were able to plant three pollinator gardens on the campus, including over 30 milkweed plants they received from Monarch Watch, as well seedlings that the students raised in their classrooms. As part of the Eco-Schools process they also integrated the community into their program by working with local businesses that helped to support their efforts by donating topsoil, compost, and additional perennials.
To learn more about the monarch butterfly and how your school can get involved, visit Eco-School USA's Monarch Recovery page.
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