Connecting kids with nature lays the foundation for long-term soil and water stewardship.
What is a Schoolyard Habitat? A Schoolyard Habitat is an improvement to school grounds or nearby lands that makes them more hospitable for native fish and wildlife while providing an accessible place outdoors for children to learn about and connect with nature on a daily basis. Projects can take many forms from trails, viewing platforms and outdoor seating, to pollinator gardens, native plantings to attract birds, and streambank restoration. Schoolyard Habitats is a nationwide program developed and funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The District’s Schoolyard Habitat Coordinator, Dan Funk, is spearheading the development of Schoolyard Habitat projects here on the Central Peninsula. In its fourth full year (2015-2016), our Schoolyard Habitat program will expand to five schools: Tustumena Elementary, Sterling Elementary, and Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences, joined by Soldotna El and Soldotna Montessori. In the past year, Dan mobilized school and community resources to create more than 1600 feet of nature trail and an outdoor classroom with log seating at Sterling Elementary. At Tustumena Elementary, the main projects have been planting class trees and creating a fenced native plant nursery and garden area. (See this article in the Redoubt Reporter for details.) In spring of 2014, the Schoolyard Habitat team at Kaleidoscope finished an ambitious Master Plan. Trail improvements and outdoor classroom construction are well underway there The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has awarded the District a total of $75,000 to support this program from 2012 to the end of 2016.
For more information about Schoolyard Habitats and Outdoor Classrooms with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska, go to http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/restoration/schoolyard_habitat.htm, or call the District at 283-8732 x 5.