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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Apex High School, Apex, North Carolina, USA

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Apex High School, Apex, North Carolina, USA
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Registered: November 2021
City/Town/Province: Apex
Posts: 1
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My junior year, I was privileged to be voted president of my school's environmental club. As my first action, I had the club begin to plant a pollinator garden to attract bees and butterflies to our new school grounds. We hoped to have honey bee hives but this was cost prohibitive, so I decided to make our campus an area that could support all pollinators. Our teacher sponsor showed us areas around campus where we could plant. We selected an area behind the football stadium where there were just weeds growing and that would be free of human interference. We laid out a tarp to kill the weeds without using harmful chemicals, like Roundup. However, there was a problem: workers mowed the grass, and if we removed the weeds then they would mow over our tiny seedlings. As we were coming up with a solution to this problem, I was walking in my neighborhood and saw that someone had recently gotten new fencing. The old fence planks were laying in the road for trash pickup. I carried several of them back to my house for the garden. We laid out the planks around the perimeter of our garden so the boundaries could be seen by the mowers. Now, the garden was almost ready for planting, but we struggled with the best way to do it. If we planted seeds directly into the garden, the seeds would need frequent watering. I decided to ask my neighbors for empty flower pots, and got many donations. I gave the pots out to club members who volunteered to try growing the seeds. I gathered from my yard, and elsewhere in the neighborhood, a large mixture of pollinator friendly seeds that would attract bees and butterflies. The club members cautiously planted the seeds in the pots, and after a week, some tiny sprouts appeared! Most of the club members had not done any gardening before and were very excited to share pictures of the growing plants. The school year was ending in June, so we waited until the last possible day before we transplanted the young plants so that they were as big and hardy as possible. I brought extra dirt and many tools to school, and we all met with our baby plants. It took 2 hours, but we got them all planted in the garden. We wished them well and left them for the summer. We had to wait all summer and hope that they survived the North Carolina heat as they were behind locked gates.

In August, the teacher sent me pictures of a beautiful garden - 100 square feet of flowers covered in bees and butterflies! We were all so excited that our garden was successful. The garden is still blooming now, even though it is getting cooler, with some of the plants being 4 feet tall! I initially chose seeds from perennials, like milkweed, that will come back next year and annuals that will drop their seeds for next year. This fall, we weeded the garden and cleared more space around the garden so that we can expand it in the spring. While we were weeding and prepping for winter, some other club members planted carrot seeds in a separate area. The second garden is covered in plastic netting to control erosion. If the carrots are not harvested, their flowers attract many types of bees and the seed heads will attract birds. The roots of the plants will also hold the soil in place, controlling erosion in a more natural way than plastic netting. Hopefully the two gardens will also be able to sponsor life such as lizards and beetles that rely on these plants to survive. This project not only serviced our school, but it educated us too. One of the board members had never planted before because his Turkish parents did not know how to garden here. I taught him how to grow the plants and he was so excited with his success that he plans on growing his own herbs this spring! My project was able to bring all of us together for a greater good, making the part of town that the school is in more environmentally supportive. Not only will it continue to provide enjoyment for those who garden in future years, but most importantly, it supports pollinators who are struggling in yards sprayed with pesticides. I've learned through reading that we can easily support animals with native plants that self seed, instead of using cultivated plants from a nursery. Native bees do best with native plants. By using hardy native seeds for our garden, we created an insect jungle supporting numerous types of pollinators on a new, barren school ground. Since the garden is tucked behind the football stadium and under the scoreboard, the project wasn't about being noticed by people, it was about being noticed by insects. I've learned that it doesn't have to take much effort to do something meaningful for your community. I will continue to collect seeds of native flowering plants and sprinkle them in ignored areas to make more areas environmentally friendly.
Date: November 14, 2021 Views: 1959 File size: 38.0kb, 463.3kb : 750 x 744
Hours Volunteered: 72
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 14-35
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