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NWF Schoolyard Habitats

What? Many schools and school districts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are committing to creating wildlife habitats in 50 percent of their campuses. Butterflies, birds, and other wildlife and insects need water, food, shelter, and places to raise their young in order to survive and thrive, and it comes down to the plants you choose to grown. Schools can create wildlife habitat by creating native gardens, and a butterfly garden is very easy to make.

WHY? The Lower Rio Grande Valley is the most bio diverse region of the entire United States. However, 95% of natural habitat in the Valley has been altered, degraded, or destroyed due toa variety of land practices. This is why it isso important that everyone helps out create habitats within urban and suburban areas, and schools are a great place to make one. This can be done by creating gardens for butterflies, birds, etc., using Valley native plants.

Schoolyard habitats bring many benefits besides helping out local wildlife. For students, schoolyard habitats:

  • Create an interactive outdoor classroom, by providing a tool to incorporate hands-on activities for every subject: science, math, social sciences, language arts, and art
  • Create a model for inquiry (engaging, exploring, explaining, elaborating, evaluating)
  • Enrich the school experience
  • Allow outside and interaction time with nature, thus connecting students with something larger than themselves and showing them how they are part of it
  • Allow insight into the impact humans have on the environment
  • Engage students to be participative citizens in providing a solution to help an environmental issue, thus fostering environmental stewardship at a young age
  • Provide a habitat for butterflies and other wildlife
  • Offer a way to show school spirit and that students, teachers, and the school community care about their school

HOW CAN YOU HELP? By planting a native garden and certifying it officially as a Wildlife Habitat with the NWF. Plant it and they will come! We designed a butterfly garden in front of the historic mansion and there are butterflies everywhere including beautiful Monarchs. We also planted a garden by the Ruby Pond, and it's visited continuously by fluttering butterflies. Start yours today!

HOW DO I CERTIFY MY GARDEN AS A WILDLIFE HABITAT? Any school with a bit of space can make a garden that attracts butterfly, birds, and other wildlife. Or your garden may already bring in butterflies, birds, and other wildlife, and you may only need to add to it. Once you have your garden, the next step is to certify it. To become part of a district's NFW Schoolyard Habitat, the school certifies their garden directly with the NFW, by filling out this form and mailing it, or by doing so online directly. This is free for schools, you get a paper certificate in the mail. Check out the NFW link also for details about certification benefits. When you certify, you show that you care!

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