Nicodemus Wilderness Project
Nicodemus Wilderness Project
About Us Projects Education Links Volunteers Membership  
Nicodemus Wilderness Project


NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Saint Joseph Academy, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

« ++ ·
· ++ »

Saint Joseph Academy, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
(Click on photo to view larger image)


Registered: December 2021
City/Town/Province: Cleveland
Posts: 1
View this Member's Photo Gallery
Over the course of my junior year of high school, I took an independent year-long research course called Independent Inquiry. For this course, students were responsible for choosing which topic to research, gathering research, and presenting the research to the community. I decided that I would use this course to complete an Apprentice Ecologist project by researching how to create a pollinator garden at my school, Saint Joseph Academy. My goal was to install the garden after I planned it out. I have wanted to create a pollinator garden at my high school since my freshman year because I recognized the potential of the large amount of unused green space on my school's campus. Pollinator gardening was something I had started on my own at my house, and it provided me with a significant learning experience. I wanted to share this hands-on learning experience with my classmates, as well as promote biodiversity conservation and beautify my school's campus. As an underclassman, I was always too afraid to do create a garden by myself. Independent Inquiry provided me with the structure and the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative provided me with the courage that I needed to achieve my goal of creating a pollinator garden.

My research took the form of interviews, textual analysis, and fieldwork. I interviewed staff at my school, including teachers, maintenance, and the principal, to gauge the support and feasibility of my project at all stages of the research process. I also interviewed pollinator gardening scholars from my county's Soil and Water Conservation District and from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. I was nervous to have these conversations, but this communication pushed me to grow outside of my comfort zone. My favorite field research that I was able to partake in was collecting a soil sample. I barely knew anything about soil prior to starting my research, so being able to gather soil, send it to a lab, and get results was very empowering. I felt like an official scientist. My other fieldwork included measuring the area outside of the school's cafeteria where I would be planning the garden and collecting soil pH levels. I extensively researched the height, growing conditions, and maintenance of each species of native plant that I would include in the garden so that the plant would be grown in a space in the garden that would guarantee its success. To wrap up my research, I mapped out a scaled version of the garden, articulating where each plant would be placed.

Once my research was finished, I showcased my final pollinator garden proposal to a committee of faculty, staff, and my school's principal, and my project got approved! The next step was to organize student volunteers to make the garden a reality. The student volunteers that I rallied helped prepare the soil of the 383 square foot garden by adding leaf humus and removing sod, weeding, planting 100 native plants in the garden, and watering the garden. I intend to mentor underclassmen and staff on how to manage the garden, how to expand it, and how to instruct other students on the management of the garden for future generations after I graduate. I am in the process of creating this curriculum. I will expand the garden to the best of my ability and incorporate the younger students in this process during the time I have left at school. Learning how to manage the garden will be a powerful experience for the students because they will become completely responsible for the garden and gain real-world experience that they can apply within their own lives. The next generation of students will be prepared to continue the work of biodiversity conservation.

The pollinator garden that I created and planted for my school will have a positive impact on both my school community and the environment. It is an educational resource that teachers can include in their lesson plans. Engineering classes can design and create labels for the plants and signs for the garden. Art classes can use the blooming flowers as references for paintings or sketches. Statistics classes can measure the prevalence of bees on certain flowers. Each of these opportunities encourages teachers to get their students out of the classroom and doing hands-on, real-world activities.

The environmental impact of the garden is also significant. I wrote to my school's maintenance staff explaining the importance of ending pesticide use in the area around the pollinator garden and succeeded in terminating the application of pesticides in an area of frequent student activity as well as around the pollinator garden. Along with providing food, shelter, and breeding grounds, the lack of pesticides within the garden will contribute to a safe haven for pollinators and work to support their populations. This conservation is important because of the decrease of pollinators' populations. Animal pollination is needed for most flowering plants to reproduce, and insects are the largest group of animal pollinators, so they are the group I targeted during my project. Restoring habitat through a pollinator garden increases the resources available for pollinators and contributes to their survival. Overall, the pollinator garden will provide active learning opportunities for students and teachers as well as benefit the campus of my high school.

No one at my school had done an Independent Inquiry project like this before. My teacher liked how I intended for my project to make an impact through the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative, so she has decided to change the requirements of Independent Inquiry to be more action-oriented like the Apprentice Ecologist project. I am grateful for the opportunity that the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative has provided for me to do something I am fully passionate about and grow as a researcher. Doing this project cemented my goal to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and research.
Date: December 29, 2021 Views: 5353 File size: 26.5kb, 2282.5kb : 4032 x 3024
Hours Volunteered: 60
Volunteers: 24
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 54
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.00355819
Print View
Show EXIF Info