Seattle Students Nurture School Garden

When it comes to learning about the environment, there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty.

Several dozen students are spending Friday, Oct. 13 working alongside local volunteers — planting native grasses, harvesting rosemary, removing invasive species and learning how the food we eat connects with the wider world — during a garden work day at South Shore School.

Student Soccer players help to remove blackberry bushes and other invasive plants from the South Shore School campus. Photo © Hannah Letinich

Local volunteers from Lowe’s joined The Nature Conservancy staff and the school community for a garden workday.

South Shore, located in the Rainier Beach area, is one of more than 50 schools across the United States to receive a Nature Works Everywhere school garden grant this year. The program, led by The Nature Conservancy and supported by Lowe’s, gives grants to urban schools to build or improve school gardens or other environmental projects. The grants are designed to connect students to a global challenge and to understand and protect the natural systems that produce our food, water, clean air and energy.

Apply for Nature Works Everywhere

Schools across the country can apply for the next round of Nature Works Everywhere grants through Nov. 3.

Grants of $2,000 will be awarded to as many as 60 schools to support projects that implement green infrastructure to address local environmental challenges, including: access to healthy food, air quality, the heat-island effect, climate change and stormwater collection.

Lowe’s has supported the Conservancy’s work for a decade, contributing more than $11 million to protect important freshwater and forest lands across North America and to advance environmental youth programs and help build the next generation of conservationists. Lowe's has provided support for more than 100 Nature Works Everywhere grants to schools over the past two years.

 At the South Shore School campus along side student volunteers a Lowe’s volunteer helps bring down overgrown blackberry overgrowth. Photo © Hannah Letinich

“Lowe’s believes involving youth in environmental projects gives students the opportunity to experience the outdoors in new ways and become advocates for nature, while contributing positively to their own communities,” said James Frison, Lowe’s director of community relations. “Nature Works Everywhere is a fantastic program that helps address environmental challenges in urban communities, while also instilling students, teachers and families with valuable knowledge about nature and the world around us.”

Our Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy has supported South Shore School’s environmental education efforts, giving a grant to pay for garden boots, signage and plant supplies.

“Through this program, these students are connecting to the natural world around them and learning lifelong lessons about taking care of the environment,” said Hannah Kett, Puget Sound cities program manager for the Conservancy. “The work they do here planting native plants and improving wetlands will have a positive impact on their health and the health of Puget Sound.”

A student volunteer at Rainier Bean Urban Wetland Farm breaks up the soil around a native plant before she places it into the ground. Photo © Hannah Letinich

Volunteers are also working Friday at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, operated by Tilth Alliance, located a short distance from the school and owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The city’s largest urban organic farm, it gives students the opportunity to grow food using practices that are healthy for the environment as well as to see how plants can protect water quality — by working to restore a natural wetland.

South Shore middle school students take weekly field trips to the farm for project-based learning opportunities around watershed and food-systems education. They work in teams to research, design, plan and build features to enhance the wetlands and farm. In addition to engaging in field science and engineering, they are also learning about civic leadership and making a positive impact in their own neighborhood.

Learn More About Nature Works Everywhere