by Jake Strevig, HS Life Sciences teacher
Students in Kindergarten through 8th grade joined forces to plant over 100 native trees and shrubs around one section of Kindergarten Creek that runs through campus. It was lovely to see all the grades working together and learning how they can help their local environment!
To help the younger students understand the importance of protecting the creek, I visited each of the classes in grades K-4 and told them a story about one of our local amphibians, Ned the (Eastern) Newt. The tale is about a happy newt who grew up in Kindergarten Creek, eating snails, worms and other aquatic insects alongside green frogs, painted turtles and other creek critters. However, his home became uncomfortable due to splishy-sploshy feet that came three times a day. Though the feet had innocent intentions, they muddied the water, injured the plants around the creek and frightened Ned. Ned adventured to find a new home, but always returned to check on his favorite childhood habitat. One spring day he returned to find his section of creek had new plants planted and a rope surrounding it. The rope protected his section of Kindergarten Creek from splishy-sploshy feet. The new plants shaded the creek and provided great habitat for a variety of critters. Soon in the protected habitat the plants grew rapidly, and more newts, frogs, toads and turtles flocked and flourished.
After the story, the Lower School classes met with their Middle School partner classes to start planting. The new trees will act as natural stabilizers, helping to prevent stream slides or erosion. Their strong roots will anchor the soil, keeping the banks intact and safeguarding the stream for years to come. They’ll offer cool shade during warm days, creating comfortable, cool water for the native species in the creek. Moreover, these newly planted trees will serve as vital habitats for a variety of wildlife, promoting biodiversity and creating an ecosystem that supports countless species.
Last but certainly not least, these trees will enhance the water quality in our stream, acting as natural filters. By absorbing nutrients and reducing pollutants, they’ll contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment.
The newly planted wildlife preserve section of Kindergarten Creek will be closed to students for general play. This will allow the area to recover and naturalize for the wildlife. Students will occasionally enter the newly planted section with their teachers to check on their trees, water them and observe the steady progression and recovery of the area. The students mostly remember what trees they planted and are able to observe them growing together over the years. The section of the creek below Ned’s Preserve by the sandbox will still be open for daily play and exploration! We are all learning how to balance our needs for exploration and hands in the water, with protecting the environmental conditions that the local flora and fauna need to thrive!
Together we’re creating a greener, safer, and more vibrant future for everyone.