BackYard Habitat Resources
These resources will help you design a habitat project at your site. When your project
is complete, report back to Journey North and tell us how you've helped unpave the
way for wildlife!
Part I: Programs, Projects, Curriculum,
A growing array of Conservation and Environmental Education Organizations
support schoolyard projects across the country. We have listed only
the "keystone" organizations
which have either developed exceptional projects and curriculum,
or provide clearinghouses of information on other schoolyard habitat projects.
sites of the organizations listed below provide an enormous compendium
on school-based habitat programs, projects, curriculum, and other
National Wildlife Federation
The National Wildlife Federation's school yard and backyard habitat
program home pages offer an extensive array of links to other sites,
literature, and video resources on: bats, birds, butterflies, community gardening,
organizations and museums, gardening, hummingbirds, native plants,
ponds, water, wetlands, and wildlife. By browsing these pages, you will be
exposed to much of the
information needed to get started on a schoolyard habitat project.
Project Wild is an interdisciplinary, environmental education program
which emphasizes wildlife, ecosystems, and the need for responsible
stewardship. The Project Wild curriculum is one of the most broadly used
programs in the country.
The Evergreen Foundation works to reconnect people with nature through
conservation and restoration of natural areas at schools and in communities
across Canada and the United States. The Evergreen Foundation's web site
to some funding sources, a listing of community and school ground
conservation and environmental education programs, how-to manuals, bibliographies,
and links to useful
"Green Teacher" is an environmental education magazine by
and for teachers. Published on a quarterly basis, "Green Teacher" is chock
full of perspective and practical articles, ready-to-use activities, resources, bibliographic
listings, and reviews. Each issue of "Green Teacher" features a
specific environmental education theme. For example, the April/May
1996 issue featured initiating
and integrating schoolyard habitat programs into the curriculum.
National Gardening Association (NGA)
NGA has developed a variety of teacher education and support programs
on teaching science and related disciplines through outdoor (and
indoor) gardens. NGA's teacher professional development opportunities
include leadership seminars,
teacher training, "Growing Ideas," a bi-monthly newsletter, and
schoolyard gardening grants.
Project Feederwatch provides thousands of volunteers across the
country the opportunity to conduct simple scientific surveys of bird species that
frequent backyard feeders. The program is sponsored by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
and is conducted from September - March. Project Feederwatch offers educational opportunities
to orient students to population dynamics and behaviors of birds that visit feeders
at your school sites and to compare your surveys with others.
Part II: Information and Assistance/Federal, State,
and Local Agencies
Developing a schoolyard habitat project requires some background information and
technical expertise. Fortunately, much of this is readily available from federal,
state, and local agencies. Several inquiries to the following agencies can unearth
the information you need to initiate or expand a schoolyard habitat project.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the federal agency established to
protect and conserve the nation's wildlife resources. The agency contains a storehouse
of information on wildlife including birds, both migratory and those that stay in
your area all year; butterflies; urban, threatened, and endangered wildlife. The
Service is geographically organized in seven regions and supports over 500 national
wildlife refuges located across the United States and U.S. territories. Staff at
regional offices and national wildlife refuges can provide much information and technical
assistance on habitat needs of wildlife in your area and native plants to needed
to support them. To locate the regional office and/or national wildlife refuge nearest
you go to the federal government listings in your phone book, and locate the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of Interior listings. Familiarize
yourself with the many other information resources available through the agency,
browse the United States Fish and Wildlife ServiceWeb
State Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Your state fish and wildlife agency can provide an invaluable resource of information
on rare, threatened, and endangered species of birds and other wildlife and plants
in your state. Generally, the non-game wildlife program coordinator will be
the best resource person for this information. Many state agencies also have county-based
offices to serve more specific locales in your state. To locate the fish and wildlife
agency office closest you, go to the state government agency listings in your phone
- By E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By Phone: 202- 624-7890
County Conservation District
Formally known as Soil Conservation Districts, County Conservation Districts now
serve each of the nation's 3,000 counties. Local conservation district personnel
can provide valuable information on native plants appropriate for wildlife in your
area. The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACDs) has developed extensive
environmental education programming and accompanying materials. Additionally, the
NACDs offers grant making opportunities to help schools initiate schoolyard habitat
projects. Locate your county conservation district by consulting the county government
listings in your phone book. Or, contact The National
Association of Conservation Districts
Part III: Special Events
Participating in national special events can be a great way to help you raise awareness
and support for your schoolyard habitat projects. Below are listed several of the
national special events geared to enhancing awareness of wildlife and the need for
conservation of their habitat.
International School Grounds Day (ISGD)
ISGD is celebrated annually the first Friday in May.
International School Ground Day is geared to raise awareness of the value of school
grounds as healthier spaces for inspiration, learning, and play. Learn more about
the program by visiting the Evergreen Foundation's
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
IMBD is scheduled the second Saturday in May, although schools and citizens groups
conduct IMBD celebrations through the weeks preceding and following IMBD.
IMBD was originally initiated in 1993 as a day to celebrate the return of millions
of migratory birds as they journey northward from wintering grounds in Mexico, Central,
and South America to their breeding grounds across the United States and Canada.
IMBD has grown to include well over 500 events conducted local conservation organizations,
schools, nature centers, museums, national wildlife refuges, and many others. Project
staff have developed a user-friendly Organizer's Packet and Educator's Supplement
which are updated annually to provide fresh, innovative ideas. Coordinating an IMBD
activity with your class or school can be a great way to showcase written work, art,
pen pal letters, and other Journey North project based activities. Include Latin
American food, crafts, and literature to help students make cultural links.
National Wildlife Refuge
NWRW is scheduled the second week of October is accord with the great pulse of
southward wildlife migration.
National Wildlife Refuge Week was established to raise awareness
of the importance of refuges to wildlife and to people. NWRW offers
many opportunities to orient students
to the importance of your school site as a habitat "rest stop" for
many migratory wildlife species. Most national wildlife refuges have
programs and materials about wildlife and habitats found at their