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Submitted By

Lynda Matheson

Bullhead City, AZ, United States


We wish to implement an after school enrichment program where the students will use their knowledge of our desert environment to design and construct schoolyard habitats for plants and animals.


Habitat Helpers

Award Winning Entry: Pennington Habitat Hero

Sunrise’s Desert Designers

It all started in April 2014, when at my new school, I discovered hummingbirds visiting the succulent blooming in the school courtyard. I received permission from my principal to hang a hummingbird feeder in a fenced (5'x20') yard that was not being utilized. I shared a photo with a Facebook group (concerned about wildlife) and was shocked to receive a $60 donation from one individual to be used towards further 'improvements'. In September 2014, further improvements were made with the existing birdhouses being cleaned out, a ground level 'birdbath' installed (and connected to the irrigation system providing a continual supply of water), bird feeders with sunflower seeds, and small plants. As I shared a photo of our current "birdyard", another generous person donated the fee for the school to become a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" through the National Wildlife Foundation.
What has amazed the teachers is the reactions from the students. The classes all enjoy walking past the 'bird yard' and do so quietly, watching to see if there are any critters in evidence. The most amazing story is of an autistic kindergartner, who never talked, walking up to the fence and announcing 'Those are hummingbirds, we have those at home.'
Sunrise Elementary has recently started afterschool tutoring and enrichment classes and with the delight the students currently express with the bird yard, the staff would like to continue and expand our schoolyard habitats while teaching the students to appreciate, understand, and care for the environment around them.

The 'bird yard' from the end.

Recent Comments (13)

  • JudyB says:

    That is wonderful – thank you!

  • Rita Keb says:

    This is such an important part of the education of children. The children learn to appreciate nature and science.

  • Vonnie Jones says:

    As a member of the Facebook group mentioned, I have watched with growing enthusiasm the interest and education this project has had among the students. What a marvelous way to teach and promote awareness of our wildlife and environment!

  • Marilyn Morgan says:

    All I can say is that the adults that have followed this all wish we had been in Ms Matheson’s class, or that we could be in it now!! This is all so cool and so relevant.

  • Nadine Fulton says:

    Thank you Lynda Matheson for all you do in helping students to learn about wildlife. What a great way by showing them on a hands on experience.

  • Diane Landry says:

    Linda what a wonderful thing to do and what a way to teach the children the Beauty of the Birds around us! And so wonderful it brought out the little Autistic Kindergartener,

  • Norma Seifrit says:

    I am also in the facebook group that Lynda mentioned. She is such a wonderful, caring teacher. I wish I could have had her when I was a child. She is teaching her kids all about nature and the beauty of bird watching and they will remember that forever. Thank you for caring so much.

  • judy weil says:

    Mrs. Matheson is a wonderful influence and heart felt teacher. She engages her students to learn more each day in a way I never had 50 years ago! We
    All benefit from her skills and caring.

  • Linda Oman says:

    What a wonderful thing for the students to be able to learn about the wildlife. Having the “Yard” is a great way to learn.

  • Kathi Cederborg says:

    Lydia: Thank you for all you do for your students. You incorporate the learning about wildlife into your ELA, Science, Math, social skills, all areas of education. Your plan for the bird yard. Mrs. Matheson consistently engages her students in the learning process.

  • Sharon Carlson says:

    Love this submission Lynda, what a beautiful submission. Your students are so blessed to have you for their teacher!!

  • Sharon Carlson says:

    Such a wonderful submission Lynda, your students are so blessed to have such a great teacher as yourself.

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