Just in time for Earth Day this weekend, Carson High School’s honors biology course broke ground on campus Thursday morning for the school’s first wildlife sanctuary.
The class received approval for a $5,000 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to cultivate an outdoor habitat.
The grant requires a 10-year commitment to protect and maintain a habitat restoration and the garden must be 1,000 square feet minimum. Each section must support desert shrubs, plants adapted to wet conditions, tall grasses and wildflowers, and large trees.
Honors biology teacher Julie Koop said the class went through an arduous process to receive a grant. During the grant confirmation process, the landscape of CHS was thoroughly inspected by the agency, and students were required to blueprint garden locations. They also had to accomplish growing milkweed in the classroom as an experiment.
This was all done over five months.
“We really wanted this,” she said. “Last year, we started a similar project on our own.”
With the grant, students designed three gardens for butterflies, birds, and other wildlife such as rabbits and bugs.
One of the main goals is to create a comfortable and healthy environment to welcome more nature over the years.
“Not only does this help people and wildlife,” said Michelle Hunt, schoolyard habitat coordinator of USFWS. “It helps students and teachers keep up with the curriculum and other standards.”
Aside from the curriculum, biology students are building a garden in front of the school to attract wildlife and promote natural habitats.
“With the grant, I become part of a community that helps us become more familiar with the animals in the area,” said student Andrea Sanchez. “Apart from that, we can get a better look at them and a chance to feed them.”
Plants given to the class by the Nevada Division of Forestry are already adapted to Nevada.
Koop said the wildlife sanctuary also will give the school’s appearance a better balance instead of being covered in concrete. Two partnerships, such as the Greenhouse Community Project and Nevada Monarch Society, are helping the class with collecting seed, plant growing, and education.
“For us, this is practicing good science,” she said. “It’s mostly experimental design but the students are learning about the ecology of the habitat.”
Besides helping the wildlife, honors biology students expressed their excitement to be testing their knowledge outside.
“I believe it’s great that we are having an area where students can work outside,” said student Hannah Kaiser. “I don’t like being stuck inside all day. This outdoor classroom is a great opportunity.”
As the class further develops the habitat, they also are installing paths, bird shelters, fencing, and an outside classroom with the grant for future generations to care for and enjoy.
“If everyone contributes, this can be the pride and joy of Carson High School,” said student Anthony McMenamy.