Eco-Schools USA Goes to College

 

Christy Boussard at the Northwest Montessori School garden.

Christy Boussard at the Northwest Montessori School garden.

Northwest Montessori is a private school in Seattle, Washington educating students Pre-K thru middle school. The school aims to build an environment that will help every student explore, communicate, work and perfect skills to their highest potential.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Boussard, a student at Evergreen State College who is using the Eco-Schools USA program to not only enhance the learning experience for kids at Northwest Montessori School, but to further her own education. This past fall, as part of a college internship, Christy transformed the school’s outdoor garden into a laboratory where students learn about the Pacific Northwest eco-system where they live.

Features of this school garden that we love:

Storm water management is taken seriously. After consulting topographic maps and taking slope measurements, Christy dug a narrow ditch to serve as a conduit for conveying storm water runoff from the school’s roof to a bio-infiltration basin that is planted with native water loving shrubs and grasses.

Lesson plans and guides enhance the learning experience. Christy created plant labels, wildlife signage and a habitat care and maintenance field guide. She also created three lesson plans:

  • Grace and Courtesy in the Garden which explains the importance of using quiet voices in the garden and why it is important to stay on pathways.
  • Plant Identification which discusses the difference between a weed and a native plant species and begins to help students learn different leaf shapes, smells and colors.
  • Observing Wildlife which starts by using a magnifying glass to observe and identify insects at an insect ‘hotel’ station.

Photo credit: Christy Boussard

The layout of the school garden.

Photo credit: Christy Boussard

A path created by using tree stumps.

Christy Boussard at the Northwest Montessori School garden.

A brush pile of native plant species.

Photo credit: Christy Boussard

A caterpillar enjoys the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students check out the Insect Hotel. Photo credit: Christy Boussard

Students check out the Insect Hotel. Photo credit: Christy Boussard

Students learn about their local forest habitat. It was important to Christy that the school garden have features that reflect forest ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. She wanted students attending this urban Seattle school to feel like they were walking out into the forest. A lot of research went into selecting plants and sourcing native plant species. Trees create a forest canopy in one section, while an understory of huckleberries and other edibles greet visitors at the end of a walkway.

Click here to learn more about the Eco-Schools USA program, and find out how you can participate!

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