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Schoolyard Habitats Program Takes Root at Pilot Sites Sponsored by NWF, Dannon

Article excerpt

More and more wildlife habitats are sprouting up in schoolyards nationwide, and 150 schools already have applied for certification under NWF's new Schoolyard Habitats program.

Launched with the help of the Dannon Company, which since 1993 has donated $450,000 from sales of its Danimals yogurt for kids, the program has supported pilot projects in different regions of the country.

At the Boise-Eliot Early Childhood Education Center in Portland, Oregon, the focus is on butterflies. Sixth and seventh graders worked wit parents and volunteers from NWT and Pacificorp, a utility company, to construct a butterfly garden, complete with a butterfly puddle, a rock pile for basking and a log pile full of hiding places.

Besides using the garden to study the biology of butter flies, students have studied butterflies in myths and legends and written their own myths about butterflies. "The kids also produced a video tour of the garden, which we are showing to other schools and individuals who are interested in creating their own wildlife habitats," reports Jere Fitterman, the teacher who led the project.

Another inner-city site is the Darrell Green Learning Center, located in a Washington, D.C., apartment complex. The center was started by Washington Redskins football player Darrell Green to provide after-school and summer programs for local kids.

In Detroit, the demonstration site is not a schoolyar but the Belle Isle Nature Center, located on an island in the middle of the Detroit River, that is visited by hundreds of local school children. …