- Project Type: Habitat Restoration & Biodiversity
- Students: 12
- Staff: 3
- Location: Hume, IL
- Grade Levels: 9th - 12th
Shiloh CUSD #1 is working towards bringing pollinators to their schoolyard and creating a place for students to sit and learn.
Originally, Shiloh hoped to add two things to their schoolyard. The first being a one-half acre native pollinator patch in an area accessible to elementary students. Although a batting cage was constructed in a small portion of the site, they will be able to increase the area of the wildflower patch to nearly an acre. This is because in searching for the most economical source of high quality seed that is appropriate for the area, they hit the jackpot. Shiloh's team was able to obtain seed from “Pheasants Forever”, an organization whose mission is to conserve pheasants, quail, and other wildlife through habitat improvement. Since the cost was much less than anticipated, they will be able to expand the wildflower area. The site is just beyond the playground that is used by the entire elementary and junior high school, making it a short walk for these students. Many of these classes, particularly the youngest (pre- kindergarten) and middle school, focus on the environment in their study of science.
Although the physical preparation of the site has not started, plans have been made to do so. Shiloh's team enlisted the help of an individual who is experienced in transforming a variety of areas into native prairies. He has recommended that we wait until temperatures improve to prepare the area for seeding. As you know, waiting for weather to cooperate in Illinois takes patience. Once temperatures have improved enough to allow them to remove unwanted plants from the area, they are prepared to seed. Their expert volunteer will help them through this process, which we hope to have completed by the end of April.
The second portion of their proposal involves the construction of two gabion benches near the entrance to the path that will go through the wildflower area. Students will be doing most of this work, starting with digging holes to secure the bench posts. We have been waiting for the ground to thaw, but not be too muddy so that students can start the process. We have had no such window as of yet, but are certainly getting closer. The large rocks, bricks and discarded concrete needed to fill the benches and provide the shelter for pollinators and other invertebrates will come from the schoolyard. Additional sources will be area farmers, who deal with rocks working to the surface of their fields annually. Most are more than willing to donate to anyone who will haul them away.