LOLA: Lenart Outdoor Learning Area

  • Location
    Chicago, Illinois
  • Status
  • Age Level
    5 to 7 Years
    8 to 10 Years
    11 to 13 Years

The Problem

To establish a native butterfly garden on our school property to close the gap that exists between urban students and nature. The garden at Lenart will teach students how to be good stewards of the environment and provide them with a sense of accomplishment and responsibility as well as establish an entire native plant community, which host plants AND nectar plants that are necessary for monarchs.

Our Plan

First, we planted more than 398 seedlings and 36 one-pint plants into a 525-square area in the summer of 2022. Our goal is to continue to expand our native garden -- ultimately, creating a native prairie for pollinators and bees on the north lawn of our school property. By expanding our native garden, we will create a native garden of at least 2,000 square feet on the southside of Chicago.

Themes Addressed

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    Habitat Destruction
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    Migratory species
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The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

This year, we started an after school Butterfly Gardening club (LOLA) with 28 third and fourth graders as well as four middle schooler leaders (7th & 8th graders) who met every other week in the fall and spring. LOLA members learned about the native pollinator garden through plant and insect studies and had an opportunity to interact with a local beekeeper and her hive as well as taste honey. In the spring, LOLA members took care of the 525-square native pollinator garden and planted 43 new native plugs in spaces where plants had not grown back from the previous year. Students took turns weeding the garden to prepare for an end-of-the-year project for the kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders of our school. An additional 40 native plants were purchased and 90 plants where donated from a local organization -- this allowed for a native planting day for the Kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders with the 7th graders taking the lead to help the primary students plant.

Through this project I/we learned:

We learned the importance of native pollinators for bees, insects, and birds. We learned about the life cycle of an oak tree -- a keystone in the Illinois ecosystem. We learned how to be good stewards of our land.

What I/we might change:

Asking for more parent volunteers / teachers leaders in order to offer programming to more students.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

Students loved digging in the dirt and using the wheelbarrow to bring over mulch. They were also excited when we found monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

Don't be afraid to just jump it and do it.

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