choolyards 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 toenrich class-room curriculum—from developing literacy andwriting skills through nature journals,to strengthen-ing math skills by monitoring bird populations.
Schools can reduce landscape maintenance andmaximize bird habitat by converting unused orunderutilized areas into natural habitats for localbirds.As indicators of environmental health,eachspecies 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,visitwww.audubonathome.org/schoolyard.Consult withyour local NRCS office to identify native plantssuited to the local soil conditions.
Many 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,visitwww.audubonathome.org/bats.
The 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 eggsand caterpillars,a school habitat garden can supporta healthy population of these important plant pollina-tors.As with birds,butterflies can be observed anddocumented in great detail.The life cycle of butter-flies can be tracked from earliest flight in springthrough the over-wintering chrysalis stage.Formoreinformation,visitwww.audubonathome.org/butterflies.
Most 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 thenserveas a nursery.For more information onhowtohelp these beneficial insects,visitwww.audubonathome.org/solitarybees.
Schoolyards can model healthy landscapes for theentire community.Families inspired by what they seeon school grounds can replicate similar efforts at ornear their own homes—perhaps 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.
Imagine a class filled with students whose attention issuddenly attracted by a new kind of bird visiting theirfeeding station for the very first time—the studentsflock to the window to observe the bird,get out afield guide and notebook,record the sighting,andreturn to their seats when the bird has moved on.These experiences can increase concentration,buildproblem-solving skills,and improve overall attitude.Each February,students,teachers,and parentscan join in counting the birds at the school and intheir yards by participating in the Great BackyardBird Count.For more information,visitwww.audubon.org/gbbc/index.shtml.
Bring the class together on a regular basis to discusswhat the students have observed and to identifyresearch projects inspired by the students’observations and questions.Audubon Adventures canhelp facilitate this discussion.Since1984,AudubonAdventures has provided resource kits to over150,000 classrooms,reaching 7million students.Formore information,call 1-800-813-5037 or visitwww.audubon.org/educate/aa.
Create and maintain a healthy environment for you,students,their families,and local wildlife by pledgingyour school to:
Reduce pesticide use
Protect water quality
Remove invasive exotic plants
Plant native species
Support wildlife on your property
Visit www.audubonathome.org/pledge tomake the pledge online.
CREATING A HEALTHY SCHOOLYARD
website<www.audubonathome.org> contains a wealth of information and downloadable resources to helpyou plan and develop your property in a wildlife-friendly way.You’ll find regional resources andinformation about the birds,other wildlife,andnative plants in your area.