Submitted by Erica Johnson, West Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative
Students at Ealy Elementary in Whitehall, MI, learned about service learning through their classroom teachers and community partner, Connie Crancer, a former native plants specialist at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum at the University of Michigan. Using the school courtyard garden is a launching point for initiating the project, Connie, the teachers and students learned scientific best practices in making observations and collecting data for their environmental stewardship project by monitoring the insects and plants that live in the courtyard garden. The students also learned how to harvest seeds from their courtyard garden and germinate the seeds in the classroom using a germination chamber. By springtime, the students had young native plants that they took home to plant in the community as well as plant in their schools courtyard garden. The students also helped maintain the courtyard garden by removing invasive plant species.