District 163 students plant native garden in Park Forest
September 13, 2012 1:48PM
Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 sixth-grade students prepare to plant at the new garden at the Wetland Discovery Center in Park Forest. | Supplied Photo
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:09AM
Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 sixth-graders from Mohawk Intermediate School and Blackhawk Intermediate Center recently planted a garden that features native plants in a plot along the west wall of the Wetland Discovery Center at Park Forest’s Aqua Center.
The students’ planting project is an outgrowth of Park Forest Recreation and Parks supervisor Rob Gunther’s plan to develop a garden of plants native to the Park Forest area. These plants include varieties that would be found prior to the development of Park Forest.
Before the Southland became farmland and then towns, the topography consisted of a mix of wetlands, forest, prairies and many small creeks, Gunther said. In 2000, Park Forest reverted 45 acres of land at Central Park to its natural state: a wetland.
Since then, sixth-graders from District 163 have contributed to the success of the wetland by planting thousands of native plants as part of their environmental education program taught by Thorn Creek Audubon Society member Michelle O’Connor and Marti Blaies, of District 163’s Science Depot program.
Thorn Creek Audubon and National Audubon provided funding for the new garden initiative through National Audubon Collaborative Grants of $750. The funds were used to buy native plants that would attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The plants were provided by Possibility Place, a nursery dedicated to growing native plants, according to O’Connor.
“The students are fantastic garden planners and planters,” O’Connor said. “The new seedlings were strategically planted in smaller plots in the garden space. The idea is to create a garden that is pleasing to the eyes of humans and hummingbirds.”
The garden also will have a new interpretive sign that is provided by the village, O’Connor said. The sign displays an explanation of hummingbird migration and the small bird’s role in plant pollination.
“Thanks to the sixth-graders, National Audubon, Thorn Creek Audubon and the village of Park Forest, there is a healthy, beautiful community for people, plants, birds and animals,” O’Connor said.
Provided to the SouthtownStar