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Green in Action Award Winner

Eisenhower High School

Goddard,  Kansas

Our "Living Legacy"project involves creating and maintaining an on-campus outdoor wildlife learning site.

The site consists of three phases:  Phase 1--interpretive native plant gardens, Phase 2-Native Grasses space, Phase 3--Aquatics Studies Pond.

In Phase 1 my ecology students transformed the space along the south side of school (along the sidewalk) after the school was constructed into a native flower interpretive garden.  We moved over 40 tons of dirt to create, at that time, 10 elevated garden beds and planted over 300 species of plants native to Kansas. Interpretive signage was developed and the students mapped the space.  Adjacent to the interpretive gardens, we worked with the Westar Energy Green Team and the students constructed an outdoor pergola classroom from re-purposed transformer station lumber and wood power poles.  We planting climbing plants to create a "living" shaded roof in years to come.

 

During Phase 2 we transformed what was once a wheat field into a 5,000 square foot section of native grasses to "filter" the street run-off for rainwater from the campus street system that eventually filled our aquatics pond.  A QR Code nature trail with Leopold benches, demonstration vertical gardens and bird and bat habitats were installed throughout this space. A vernal seasonal pond was also created in this space.

 Phase 3 now has an aquatics study pond created from rain water run off.  The pond has a clay bottom and now maintains water in it throughout the year providing a way station resting place for migrating waterfowl.  Other organisms discovered during our annual bio blitz include micro and macro-invertebrates and small fish in the pond, crayfish and raccoons.

 The ecology classes conduct annual quadrant studies to ascertain our biodiversity development.  The ecology classes used money collected from recycling aluminum cans to construct additional elevated gardens to create pollinator spaces which has been designated as Monarch Way Stations by Monarch Watch.  We now have 16 elevated beds (3'x8') growing native flowers like butterfly milk weed, cone flowers, beards tongue, lead plant, Missouri evening primrose, Prairie Smoke, Indian Grass, Bluestem and more.

 We monitor the CO2 levels in the parking lot and around the building and in these gardens to document that the gardens and native grasses spaces help to offset the high school building's carbon footprint.  The students maintain these gardens and native grasses sections through effective natural pest management and control burning of grasses.  Both students and the public enjoy the spaces.  

 

An adjacent Memorial Garden has been developed to honor those students whose lives have been lost while attending the high school.  The ecology students are also involved in our annual energy audits to help the high school and school district meet our energy conservation goals.  The ecology classes also maintains the school district's recycling project where over 30 tons of paper/cardboard, 600,000 plastic beverage bottles and more than 300 pounds of aluminum cans are recycled annually.  This year the ecology students also distilled corn into ethanol after visiting a local ethanol plant in Pratt, KS.