Creating A Healthy Schoolyard

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  • 7/31/2019 Creating A Healthy Schoolyard


    Schoolyards in your community may alreadyprovide habitat for common local birds.However, by improving the quality of that habi-

    tat, your schoolyard can attract additional birds andwildlife while providing a healthier, more interactivelearning environment for students. By documentingbird sightings and observing the behavior of birdsand other wildlife, students can increase their appre-ciation for the natural world. A diverse schoolyardhabitat offers countless opportunities to enrich class-room curriculumfrom developing literacy andwriting skills through nature journals, to strengthen-ing math skills by monitoring bird populations.

    SCHOOLYARD BIRDSSchools can reduce landscape maintenance andmaximize bird habitat by converting unused orunderutilized areas into natural habitats for localbirds. As indicators of environmental health, each

    species provides countless lessons that link studentsto their natural heritage, and contributes to creatinga richer learning environment for students,educators, and school staff. For more information onhow to create healthy schoolyard habitats, withyour local NRCS office to identify native plantssuited to the local soil conditions.

    BATSMany of the 47 bat species found in the United Stateshave an enormous appetite for flying insects.Emergingat dusk, bats patrol the skies and consume thousandsof insects each night. Many bat species rely on treesfor roosting and resting, so preserving large trees onor near school grounds is important to bat survival.

    Crevice-roosting bats will take to bat houses placedhigh on the side of a school building. For more infor-mation, visit

    BUTTERFLIESThe best way to introduce your students to impres-sive native butterflies is to create a schoolyardbutterfly garden. By providing flowers for butterfliesto eat from, as well as host plants for butterfly eggs

    and caterpillars, a school habitat garden can supporta healthy population of these important plant pollina-tors. As with birds, butterflies can be observed and

    documented in great detail. The life cycle of butter-flies can be tracked from earliest flight in springthrough the over-wintering chrysalis stage. For moreinformation,visit

    THE OTHER BMost of the bees that pollinate native plants do notlive together in hives.Many of these native solitarybees are declining, but you may be able to help themby building a bee box. Simply drill small holes into anuntreated block of wood,or tie a bundle of driedstems together and place them outdoors. Solitarybees will lay their eggs in the holes, which thenserve as a nursery. For more information onhowto help these beneficial insects,

    SCHOOL GROUNDS AS COMMUNITY GARDENSchoolyards can model healthy landscapes for theentire community. Families inspired by what they seeon school grounds can replicate similar efforts at ornear their own homesperhaps creating somethingas simple as a window box with native plants in anurban setting, or a more complete habitat in a subur-ban backyard. These efforts will create similarenvironments, linking the school to the larger com-munity, and form a habitat corridor allowing for thesafe movement of native birds and beneficial wildlife.

    Parents, teachers, and administrators within aschool district can work together to coordinateideas and goals for their schoolyard habitat and pro-vide year-round maintenance. With adult direction,

    students can take what they learn at school into thecommunity to build a network of habitat gardensaimed at providing for native wildlife.

    A LEARNING ENVIRONMENTImagine a class filled with students whose attention issuddenly attracted by a new kind of bird visiting theirfeeding station for the very first timethe studentsflock to the window to observe the bird, get out a

    field guide and notebook, record the sighting, andreturn to their seats when the bird has moved on.These experiences can increase concentration, build

    problem-solving skills, and improve overall attitude.Each February, students, teachers, and parents

    can join in counting the birds at the school and intheir yards by participating in the Great BackyardBird Count. For more information,

    AUDUBON ADVENTURESBring the class together on a regular basis to discusswhat the students have observed and to identifyresearch projects inspired by the studentsobservations and questions. Audubon Adventures canhelp facilitate this discussion. Since 1984, AudubonAdventures has provided resource kits to over150,000 classrooms, reaching 7 million students. Formore information, call 1-800-813-5037 or visit

    HEALTHY YARD PLEDGECreate and maintain a healthy environment for you,students, their families, and local wildlife by pledgingyour school to:

    U Reduce pesticide useU Conserve waterU Protect water qualityU Remove invasive exotic plantsU Plant native species

    U Support wildlife on your property

    Visit tomake the pledge online.


    The AUDUBON AT HOME website contains a wealth ofinformation and downloadable resources to helpyou plan and develop your property in a wildlife-friendly way. Youll find regional resources andinformation about the birds,other wildlife, andnative plants in your area.

    The AUDUBON AT HOME website contains informationand downloadable resources to help you plan anddevelop your property in a wildlife-friendly way. Youllfind regional resources and information about the birds,other wildlife, and native plants in your area.

    NRCSS BACKYARD CONSERVATION website alsoshows ways to help the environment and to make youryard more attractive and

    National Audubon Society, Inc., 2006

    This publication is printed cooperatively by Audubon and the Natural ResourcesConservation Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.United States Department of Agriculture

    Natural Resources Conservation Service


  • 7/31/2019 Creating A Healthy Schoolyard


    Invite Birds, Bats, and Butterflies toYOUR SCHOOLYARD

    Cavity nesting birds can be welcomedand assisted with BIRDHOUSES.Place boxes where they wont bevandalized.

    Insect-controlling bats may roost by dayin a BAT HOUSE placed high on theside of the school.

    With the clearing of hollow trees andthe capping of chimneys, Chimney Swiftsare losing traditional places to nest androost. Attractive CHIMNEY SWIFTTOWERS can house these high-flyinginsect hunters and can offer hours ofpleasure to students and faculty whowatch the birds aerial maneuvers.

    The next time your school needs a newroof, why not turn the barren roofspace into an attractive green hilltop?ROOFTOP GARDENS save energyand money by better insulating buildinginteriors, last longer than conventionalroofs, and can provide habitat for birds,butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

    A source ofWATER, such as ashallow pond or a birdbath,will be amagnet to birds and will attractbeneficial insects such as butterflies.

    Create a BUTTERFLY GARDEN byplanting wildflowers and other plants tofeed adult butterflies and caterpillars.

    Hummingbirds capture the imaginationof children and adults alike. With redand yellow tubular flowers and aHUMMINGBIRD FEEDER or two,these living gems will be drawn to theschool and will provide a thrillingopportunity for viewing and study.

    BIRD FEEDERS bring nature right upto the classroom window, providingstudents a close encounter with manybird species in your area.

    Millions of birds are killed each yearwhen they fly intoWINDOWS.Children can help birds to avoid thesecollisions by decorating the outside ofschool windows with paper cutouts oradhesive patterns.

    NATIVE PLANTS, including trees,shrubs, and wildflowers, createattractive habitats for birds andbeneficial insects. Look for ways tobeautify underutilized areas ofschoolyards or grounds with greenery,and to bring birds and butterflies closerto the students.


    If your school is in the city,or has a lot of paved land for sports and parking lots, yourprimary goal may be to provide additional habitat for common native birdsto createa small patch of green as an oasis for birds moving through your neighborhood. Moreopen settings, or larger schoolyards, can attract a wider variety of birds. Considerproviding food, shelter, and nesting sites for five or six local species.Then keep a close

    watch to see how the birds respond to your efforts. To determine some of the bestspecies to attract, and to find ways to help support them at your school,

    My target species Action points

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    3 521


    For more in format ion, visi t www.audubona thome .org /schoolyard For individual copies of this poster, call 1-888-LANDCARE.