Registered: January 2017
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New Garden at my School
Howdy, my name is Richard and I am a junior in Whitney High School. I co-founded a Wildlife and Ecology Club at my school and have a deep passion for biology. I chose to do an Apprentice Ecologist Project because I saw at my school, Whitney High School, a very barren and deserted plot of land near the South gate entrance of my school that was a memorial garden for an old teacher. It had some cactuses, which were not very safe, and had many succulents and dead plants. It overall did not look appealing to the eye, and I wanted to make it look much more attractive for the school. I focused the entire project on just renovating that three hundred square foot garden plot on the campus of my school.
I started this project early in the year sometime in January, and I received help from my club to completely redo the whole garden. First, my club needed money for this project since we wanted new plants for the garden. My club started a kickstarter to raise the money, and we were actually able to raise a couple hundred dollars. Next, we had to figure out which plants we wanted to order for the garden and which would survive and flourish in Southern California’s climate. We looked at drought tolerant plants as the focus for the garden, but also wanted to make it look more colorful and welcoming. We also wanted a small milkweed patch on the side of the garden to attract monarch butterflies and caterpillars, and some of the flowers that we picked attract hummingbirds. After planning the plot of land and what plant would go where, we then began the dirty work by stripping down the existing garden. Thankfully, our club had many eager workers and we collaborated with my school’s Key Club to make the garden renovation a volunteer event. With many workers at hand, we began to dig out all the cactuses, succulents, and old plants from the garden. We even had to cut down and take out an old tree. After taking all the old plants out, we then applied coffee grounds and fertilizer that would help the plants flourish in the soil. Once the plants came in, we then planted each plant in its designated spot with mulch and watered it. We also bought poppy seeds and spread those out in the garden. Our milkweed patch had about seven milkweed plants in it. At this point, the garden was looking very nice and with everything finally planted, all we needed to do now is just maintain and water it. There were hardships though. We had two or three plants die in the process or after planting, but as of right now at the end of the year, our garden is finally stable and is prospering.
Students and teachers alike at the school are all liking the garden very much and we have a couple of pictures of the garden on the school website’s home page. We also decided to add some stepping stones that goes through the garden that people can use to walk on and see all of the garden. Now when teachers, students, and guests enter the school, they first see the colorful garden that is growing. Also since the garden was a memorial for an old teacher, we feel we are better commemorating the man with the newly renovated garden. On the animal side, I have seen multiple hummingbirds and butterflies come by. We have had numerous monarch caterpillars in the milkweed patch benefiting from the abundance of milkweeds there are. The caterpillars would then form into chrysalises and we had them hatch. This was a very proud moments for our club and anyone who worked on the garden because we are helping the monarch population, which is very important because the monarch population has been decreasing greatly over the years.
With the memorial garden renovation, it has definitely made the club and me very proud of the work we have done and this achievement we accomplished. I am very happy that I pursued this and pushed for the renovation of the garden. I definitely could not have done it without my club. We also were asked by the vice principal of our school to add a new garden to an empty plot that is located along the soccer field in the back of our school. We eagerly accepted this request, and are now planning a new garden with new plants that will go in this new garden plot. This new garden plot is along a sidewalk that students often walk on to reach the tennis courts and swimming pool behind the school. We hope to make the walk more colorful and much more delightful. Also with the experience we gained from the past garden, we will be able to bring an even nicer and larger garden. This garden renovation has been a great experience and I can not wait for the new garden we are planning for next year.