June 28, 2010

Wildlife garden promotes health and environmental awareness


▶ B'town students complete project

on school grounds

There's a small rock pile amongst the shrubbery in a garden made by Beekmantown Junior High eighth-graders on school grounds here.

The spot is designed for garter snakes that might find it comfortable for basking in the sun or hiding for protection.

Recently completed, the whole garden is designed to give a variety of animals a little refuge.

As the school year wound down, students in Tracey Soulia and Carrie Redmond's Food and Fitness classes spent a great deal of time learning about wildlife habitat and gardening in preparation for creating the wildlife habitat garden just outside their classroom.

"We wanted to do something that was connected to being outdoors," Soulia said as her students put some finishing touches on the garden early one morning. "If we can incorporate fitness into gardening opportunities, then the students will be working with something healthy while studying the environment."


The two classes coordinated with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County to come up with a garden concept that would attract a variety of birds and small mammals, with a little room for some snakes as well.

"They've been learning about habitat, what kinds of habitat attract certain species and what kinds of impacts humans can have on habitat, both good and bad," said Alexa King, 4H educator for Cooperative Extension.

The garden, about 15 feet square, features a variety of small shrubs and bushes as well as different species of flowering plants to attract butterflies and other insects.

"In order for a wildlife habitat garden to be successful, you've got to incorporate all kinds of habitat, including food and water for visiting wildlife," King said. "They've planted flowers that will bloom at different times of the year."

The garden also includes a walkway that winds through the vegetation so students can visit the garden and check on how successful it is in providing diverse habitat for wildlife.

The plants are young and will grow to fill in space over the seasons, King noted.

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