- Gwinnett County School District
- GCPS News
National Wildlife Federation certifies new Schoolyard Habitat at Mason Elementary School
May 12, 2023
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized that Mason Elementary School has successfully created a Certified Schoolyard Habitat® through its Garden for Wildlife program. Mason Elementary School has joined more than 5,000 schools nationwide that have transformed their schoolyards into thriving wildlife habitats that provide essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young. The habitat also serves as an outdoor education site where students can engage in cross-curricular learning in a hands-on way.
Certification also makes Mason Elementary School’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators.
“Our students recognized a solvable problem in our local community regarding endangered animals in the Piedmont habitat,” says Ms. Rachel Seibert, the 3rd STEM leader.
Principal David Jones makes it a priority for students to use STEM in impactful ways. “At Mason Elementary, we have the opportunity to teach students the curriculum and show them how to use STEM every day to solve real world issues,” he says.
“We are excited to have another school join our growing list of more than 5,000 certified Schoolyard Habitats. Kids can now personally experience nature through hands-on learning in an outdoor environment,” says Liz Soper, director of K-12 Programs for National Wildlife Federation.
The Mason Elementary habitat has been created by students from each grade level. First-graders worked on saving the monarchs and installed the garden plants that would attract butterflies. Students in 3rd grade have been composting and doing food waste audits to reduce the amount of food wasted. The compost bins have been filled daily with uneaten veggies, fruits and recycled papers. Community partners, along with Emma Slay from Georgia Gwinnett College, and All-Pro Dad volunteer Mark Carter, have been helping educate students on the environment and rotating the compost. Mason Elementary students realized the school garden needed water sources for animals and insects. Consequently, the 3rd grade students used the National Wildlife Checklist and researched items using a budget to make this certification possible. “It is incredible to see the high levels of collaboration and learning students are accomplishing with STEM and the National Wildlife Federation,” says Ms. Seibert.
NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It also encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups, and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provide food, water, cover, and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms, and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries. For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit http://www.nwf.org or call 1-800-822-9919.