To Contact This Program
North Carolina Northwest Three Afterschool Consortium
Bricca P. Sweet
P.O. Box 199
Sugar Grove, NC 28679
Program fifth through eigth grade youth reclaimed an overgrown field adjacent to the school and transformed it into a bird and butterfly habitat. They researched the types of birds and butterflies native to the area; the types of native plants‚ foods‚ feeders‚ and nesting homes appropriate for these species; and the designs for feeders and nesting homes. They found local hardware and agricultural supply stores‚ and nurseries that donated building supplies‚ feed‚ and native plants‚ and also solicited the local community for donations. Local farmers provided "organic soil‚" tools‚ and equipment‚ and community members helped with the labor to re-claim the area. The program youth give habitat tours to school classes and other visiting schools‚ as well as designing and providing class presentations on aspects of the habitat. They maintain the habitat area‚ and have continued to expand the project by building outdoor classroom bench seating‚ additional trails‚ a trellis‚ and planting experimental crops. They provide educational bulletin boards throughout the school on characteristics of habitat creatures‚ and they are researching bogs with the intent of reclaiming the bog next to the habitat area. The high school's horticultural program has gotten involved in providing advice and assistance. The program youth are using differing aspects of their habitat project as the basis for science fair projects. They also write articles for the local paper‚ conduct radio broadcast interviews‚ and develop web pages about the habitat‚ in addition to providing habitat displays at Family Nights and PTSO meetings.
Number of Students Involved in This Activity: 93
Range of Student Ages: Ten to fifteen years old
Duration of Activity: Several months; ongoing
Relevant Contextual or Demographic Information: These are very low-income youth in a rurally isolated mountain are. This project has become an item of school and community pride. The state's mandated curriculum objectives are enriched through this project.
What is the academic content of this activity?
This project primarily focuses on science objectives in plant and animal growth‚ the environment‚ soil‚ water‚ and meteorology. Preparing displays‚ articles‚ presentations‚ and Web pages reinforces expressive literacy skills‚ while much of the research also enriches reading and literacy. Math is integrated through numerous graphs of costs‚ species visits‚ rate of feed consumption‚ and plant growth.
How does this activity create strong relationships?
High school horticultural students have partnered with program fifth through eigth graders on this project. Adults from across the community have donated to the project and worked alongside program youth in reclaiming the habitat. Program youth have developed strong teamwork skills with their peers through this project. Providing tours‚ bulletin boards‚ and class presentations have strengthened program participant relationships with their peers. Teachers have seen program participants shine in this project and are using them as classroom resources.
What opportunities are there for authentic decision making?
Our fifth through eigth graders chose the project in the first place. They decided on the habitat's overall design‚ which species they would attract‚ what plants they'd include‚ what types of feeders and nesting homes would be included and where they would be placed‚ and how they would be built and decorated. Our youth decided who to ask for assistance and how those requests would be made. They also select the experimental crops that will be included‚ as well as where to place them. The youth select areas for additional research and learning expeditions. They decide which aspect of the habitat will be the basis of their science fair projects and how to conduct the projects. They also decide on bulletin board displays‚ classroom presentations‚ and displays for Family Nights and PTSO meetings.
What student leadership opportunities are there?
Program youth have leadership roles in each aspect of the habitat project‚ such as research teams‚ labor groups‚ tour guides‚ community outreach‚ and publicity. They also have a leadership role in facilitating decisions about expanding the project. They have formed a Youth Advisory Board for the project‚ and they rotate leadership positions among participants.