by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Students and teachers, along with staff from Atlanta Audubon and Convivial Landscapes, worked together on Wednesday, November 20 to install a bird-friendly native plant garden at Heritage Academy in south Atlanta as part of a year-long program to prepare students to become better stewards of our shared environment.
To date, Atlanta Audubon has worked with seven schools through the Connecting Students with STEM through Birds Program, including Boyd Elementary, Cleveland Academy, Continental Colony Elementary, Emma Hutchinson Elementary, Heritage Academy, Main Street Academy, and Usher-Collier Elementary. In addition, Fickett Elementary has also been selected for the 2019-20 school year, and installation of their garden is scheduled for later this year.
With generous funding through the Morgens West Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and Atlanta Audubon members, Connecting Students with STEM through Birds is a comprehensive elementary school program.for federally designated Title I schools in the metro area. Each school receives a bird-friendly outdoor learning area featuring native plants that allows teachers to extend learning outside of the traditional classroom. Atlanta Audubon partners with Convivial Landscapes, LLC, an ecological landscaping company, to select plants and to design and install the garden on school grounds with the help of students and teachers. Additionally, each school receives a classroom set of binoculars, bird- and nature-themed books for the school library, student programming by Atlanta Audubon, and professional development for teachers. Throughout the school year, Atlanta Audubon staff will visit the school to conduct bird-banding demonstrations and other programs to help teach and engage the students with birds and the environment.
“Students are always excited to participate in the garden installations, says Melanie Furr, Atlanta Audubon director of education. “When I return to the schools for programming during the year, the students are eager to point out what they planted and share what they have seen in the garden. I often have students tell me they wish they could go outside and go birding every day. I tell them that they can! Birds are everywhere if we just stop and look.”
Today’s youth will grow up to become tomorrow’s policy experts, decision makers, and community advocates, says Furr. By creating a bird-friendly habitat at the school, Atlanta Audubon is providing a means for the students and the community to learn more about the natural world around them. As students and educators learn more about their local ecosystems and the issues affecting them, they naturally become better environmental stewards.
Atlanta Audubon Society is building places where birds and people thrive. We create birds -friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.