Seeds for Education Grants

Background and History

The Wild Ones Seeds for Education Program (SFE) began in 1996 and was named in honor of naturalist and inspirational leader Lorrie Otto. The program encourages Wild Ones members (as parents, grandparents and community members) to help children learn about the natural world.

Many Wild Ones support community efforts to establish or maintain natural areas, and work with local schools, scout groups and other organizations to create butterfly gardens, rainwater gardens, or other projects.

The Wild Ones mission (to educate and share information about the benefits of natural landscaping using native species to promote biodiversity and environmentally sound practices) encourages members to interact with the community. As members see the results of their native landscaping in their backyards, they begin to notice other areas in their communities where naturally landscaping could be beneficial. They also become aware of community efforts to help children learn about the natural world. Many members support these efforts.

The focus we use in supporting youth programs can be remembered by using the acronym PLUMES.

P - Parents Involve the parents and neighbors.

L - Lesson Plans It is one thing to have a nice school natural area, and another to have the teachers utilize its potential.

U - Us! The local chapter of the Wild Ones serves as a source of volunteers and knowledge.

M - Maintenance staff. These folks need to be on board.

E - Educators Include several core teachers and the principal.

S - Students! The kids need to be involved in the all aspects of a project, from the idea and the design to the planting and maintenance, and then finally in the use of the natural area.

Ideally each project has a steering committee composed of members of the groups described in PLUMES.

Lesson Plans There has been increasing pressure to teach to the standardized tests that do not contain environmental questions. It is becoming difficult for a teacher to justify time spent in a natural area. The key is to use the area to teach other core subjects using the plants and insects as hands-on learning. For example, the art class could sketch the flowers and the math class could calculate the germination rate of seeds.

"Without good science we are ignorant, ignorant of the relationship between thistles and painted ladies, between frogs and pesticides, between ourselves and the natural world around us. And, that could be deadly." -- Janice Cook