Fortuna Middle School native plant garden is an outdoor classroom

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

More than 50 Fortuna Middle School students and community members gave up a Saturday recently, to turn the front lawn area at the school into a native plant and wildlife garden. The work group planted lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce trees, blue blossom, sticky monkey flower, Oregon grape and evergreen huckleberry, creating garden designed to attract native wildlife and serve as an outdoor classroom.

Fortuna Middle School intervention and math teacher Michael Kaufmann said the Oct. 19 gathering was a fun day working with the kids and it turned out nicely.

"The workday also provided a great opportunity to connect the community with the school," he added.

He said many of the students helped develop the layout for the plantings.

"This is only the first step in creating an outdoor learning environment," Kaufmann said.

Additional projects will place interpretive signs for the native plant garden and wildlife habitat, placement of a circle of benches to be used as an outdoor classroom, and installation of a vernal pond rock garden.

The North Coast Chapter of the California native Plant Society donated many of the plants, and Leonardo Logging & Trucking and Humboldt Redwood Company also donated to the project. A grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also provided funding.

The Schoolyard Habitat Program helps teachers and students create wildlife habitat at their own schools. The goal of the program is to provide technical and organizational assistance to create outdoor classrooms that are effective as educational tools in addition to being suitable habitat for many years.

"This project offers many teaching and learning opportunities in mathematics, science, history, geography, social studies, art, and more," Kaufmann said.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Fortuna Middle School students helped establish a native plant and wildlife garden as an outdoor classroom on a recent workday. A barbecue lunch was provided for all who pitched in to make the garden become a reality.