Hands-on planting for New London students
School receives Wild Ones grant
By Scott Bellile
Science students at New London High School will soon have a native vegetation plot to learn about birds and Wisconsin plants firsthand.
Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area awarded New London science teacher John Ruckdashel a $500 Natural Landscapes for Tomorrow grant on Thursday, March 31. The New London School District will match it with an additional $500.
The $1,000 will be used to build an approximately quarter-acre native planting on the north side of the high school. Students will install and maintain it while learning about birds, butterflies, bees, moths, native plants and soils.
“It’s a good hands-on experience for the kids to talk about prairies and the native plants we have,” Ruckdashel said.
The plot will run along the library’s glass windows and provide a view for people reading in there, Ruckdashel said. Its 18-20 native species will include flowers like columbine, bergamot, coneflower and aster, and native grasses such as little bluestem and Indian grass.
“It should add a little beauty to the school,” he said.
Steve Petznick, naturalist with Mosquito Hill Nature Center, said the plot will help maintain New London’s Bird City Wisconsin status by giving the birds a habitat. He said he hopes the project will have a trickle-down effect of students convincing their parents to install native plantings in their own yards.
Ruckdashel is buying plants now and said students could break ground as soon as May.