Photo by Laurie Solchenberger

Meet our Grant Winners!

Photo by Leslie Hudgins

Photo by Leslie Hudgins

Choosing our Habitat Hero Mini-grant winners isn’t easy! We’ve had many incredible submissions, but these past few months a few of them have really stood out. Thanks to our sponsor Pennington Wild Bird Food, we were able to award mini-grants of up to $750 to projects that aimed not only to improve their local habitat, but also to enrich learning with outdoor activities.

The young citizen scientists of Lincoln Elementary in Madison, Wisconsin fell in love with backyard birds after each of them “adopted” a bird to learn about. This fascination inspired them to become involved in several citizen-science projects, including eBird and Project FeederWatch. Now, the students and their teacher, Laurie Solchenberger, want to take their love for birds and nature one step further by creating a school garden and trail, as well as raising money for bird conservation. They also plan to install more bird feeders, which will allow them to expand their citizen-science efforts.

In Mathews, Virginia, Leslie Hudgins and her students at Thomas Hunter Middle School have teamed up with organizations including Boy Scouts, Mathews Women’s Garden Club, a local Native Plant Society, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to create an extensive nature trail with gardens and outdoor classrooms. The  project includes a perimeter trail, four outdoor classrooms, observation areas, freshwater and saltwater labs, a raised ground area for an amphitheater, a butterfly garden, native plants, areas for testing water and soil, and bird and bat houses.

Planet Bee School Bee Hive

Photo by Patty Fung

We also have two great gardens initiatives! First the Laurel Park Elementary in Cary, North Carolina is creating a Native Plant Pollinator Garden as part of their schoolyard habitat certification program to use for their garden club, outdoor classroom, and to engage their community.  Also, the Alice Fong Yu School Garden in San Francisco, California is immersing their students in topics like food production and habitat for insects, birds, and native plants.

We love that these projects allow teachers to take their students out to the nature trails and gardens, where they can gain hands-on experience to reinforce the concepts that they’ve learning. In addition to funds for their projects, these groups each received one of our new Habitat Connections curriculum kits, which incorporates hands-on learning through nature in order to meet Next Generation Science Standards.

Is your classroom filled with Habitat Heroes, Citizen Scientists, Community Builders, or Sustainability Stars? Tell us about them and the great things their doing by submitting your actions onto  Action Map. You’ll be entered into a contest for a chance to win a Habitat Heroes mini-grant!


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