Think Wild recently received a $4,000 grant from The Environmental Center’s “Garden for Every School” Grant to develop a pollinator and edible garden at Barnes Butte Elementary School.
Think Wild began partnering with Barnes Butte Elementary School at the beginning of the 2023 school year through a META Prineville Data Center funded education grant, providing wildlife educational programming to fifth grade classes. Every month, Think Wild’s educators travel to Crook County and teach students about native wildlife, environmental science, and other topics with the goal of inspiring this generation of learners to care for and help protect wildlife and habitat.
When the Garden for Every School Grant opportunity arose, we reached out to the teachers and principal at Barnes Butte to see if they wanted to expand the partnership by creating a green space for students, staff, and families to grow and learn from at their school. School community gardens provide an amazing opportunity for both youth and adults to get involved in hands-on learning opportunities, community building, habitat enhancement, and healthy and sustainable ways of living.
Barnes Butte Elementary School does not currently have an educational garden space for students and their families to interact with, so the Garden for Every School Grant provides funding for Think Wild to design and implement an approximately 30 x 30 square foot garden for the use and enjoyment of the 515 enrolled students, staff, and their families. The garden will provide endless learning opportunities for students and will be accessible to families during the spring and summer months, giving students and their families a chance to learn about composting, growing food, and supporting local pollinators and other wildlife. Not only will the garden provide educational opportunities, but research from the American Horticultural Therapy Association illuminates the many benefits that a garden space brings to both youth and adults. These health benefits include decreased anxiety and can lead to increased mood and feelings of relaxation. The funding from this grant will support our educators at Think Wild as they help start the garden at Barnes Butte.
Taylor Trautman, the principal at the school said:
“Barnes Butte feels so fortunate to be a recipient of the grant. Students are thrilled to further their skills in agriculture, sustainable crops, and build skills around responsibility. The garden will provide an additional learning space for students to tie in hands on learning in a real and tangible way. As educators we find value in fostering skills that students can take forth into their lives and the garden provides that! Thank you!”
We feel very lucky to be able to help start this garden at the school and to encourage this community to get involved in sustainable garden practices. We’re hoping to continue using education as a tool to inspire Central Oregon communities to protect native wildlife and the land we share.