Donnie Knight, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, describes what the natural habitat will look like in the grassy field east of Snyder Park Elementary Monday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Snyder Park Elementary students to plant natural habitat

Snyder Park Elementary students will plant a natural habitat at the school after partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

The project will provide a habitat for birds, monarch butterflies and bees, and Snyder Park Elementary Instructional Coach Eric Brunger said students have been an integral part of the planning process.

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“Right here on campus, we’re going to have something that the kids can interact with on a daily basis,” he said. “They’ll be putting the shrubs and the trees in, digging some of the holes.”

The students participating had a hand in drafting the plans for the habitat, he said, that will include about 100 trees and shrubs, plus flowers and an outdoor learning area.

Students will plant much of the habitat on Wednesday, he said, and then plant more in the fall.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will cover the nearly $1,800 cost of materials, said Donnie Knight, a private lands biologist for the organization.

Snyder Park Elementary was a good fit for the natural habitat because it has plenty of open space.

“The important thing is that the kids have an opportunity to do hands-on learning,” Knight said.

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It’s also a good opportunity to teach students about the environment, he said, and the challenges that it faces.

“Now with the declines in our native pollinators that we rely so heavily on for food production, it’s really good to get the kids exposed to what habitats they need,” Knight said.

Snyder Park sixth grader Sydney McCanley is on the leadership team for the project. She’s thrilled to be working on it.

“The design that I’ve looked at, I think it’s going to look very pretty,” she said. “Right now it’s just a field of grass and when we’re all done it’ll be beautiful out here.”

Students will be able to work in the habitat for years to come, Knight said. It will also include walking trails.

“It’s a great opportunity for schools who may have the ability to help but they really don’t need to get into having to worry about having it as a line item on a budget,” he said.

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