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Story Submission

Submitted By

Elizabeth Archodominion

Portland, OR, United States


We started with a plain courtyard on our campus, filled with some rounded junipers that served little function, and turned it into an “Enchanted Garden” for birds and students alike. We held a garden build day in March and had a turn out of about 120 volunteers. Thanks to funding from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Alaska Fertilizer, we were able to build a really cool garden that will provide not only learning and tasting opportunities, but also a nice place to be for both families and birds.

Our third graders took part in the Habitat Connections curriculum and ended their study by choosing to set up a bird feeding station, in the garden, outside of their window! They noticed that our schoolyard did not have many birds and decided to improve habitat and attract birds by being habitat helpers! They were so excited when I unveiled the final product, a feeding station with a bird feeder, a suet feeder, a seed tray and a water dish! Later that day we had our first visitor, a Black Capped Chickadee, one of the birds we had been learning was a resident in our community!


Habitat Helpers

Award Winning Entry: BirdSleuth Garden Grant Winner

Improving Habitat for Birds and Humans Alike!

It is important to our school to get our students outside, digging in the earth, engaging in real world problem solving, hypothesizing, planning, discovering, cultivating ownership and learning in ways that will be memorable and meaningful. Our goal with the school garden that we built this past March is that it will engage our students, grades K thru 5, with things that must be measured, counted, weighed, arranged, planned and cared for and will require their intellectual, emotional and social involvement. It will provide them with knowledge about the value of locally grown heritage foods, self-sufficiency, seed storing, habitats, habitat protection, and sustainable earth-wise practices such as composting and organic food systems.
Our students will be 'citizen scientist' and learn how their choices can impact the world around them. One of our third grade classes implemented the lessons from the Habitat Connections to experience this role. The lessons were highly engaging and many students expressed that they were the highlight of their school day. We did as many of the lessons in our garden space as we were able to. The most well received lessons were likely the obstacle course, researching birds on the computers and then reporting on their migration patterns and food sources, and then our end project - a really cool bird feeder that we were able to set up just outside out classroom window in our garden. Our classes will continue to use this feeder to make observations of bird populations year round. We plan to share this information with ebird in the winter. These lessons and the project we undertook or constructing a food garden, bird feeding station and in the future expanding our native habitat garden will help not only local bird populations, but our entire student body for years to come.

Half of our class posing for a picture with the new feeding station.

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