By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Recently, the Kate Starr Kellogg Elementary School received a $10,000 grant to build a pollinator habitat in front of the school from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
“Environmental education fits into the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme curriculum. Our kids learn to think globally and the health of the planet fits into that,” said lead organizer of Kellogg’s Garden Club Emily Lambert, commenting on the importance of the school’s garden and pollinator habitats.
Pollinator habitats attract honey bees, wild bees and other pollinators, which pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year, according to US Department of Agriculture. On a local level since pollen promotes fertilization, the better off are area gardens and plant life.
The idea of the of an expanded pollinator habitat on Kellogg grounds came from Garden Club volunteer, Local School Council member, and Kellogg neighbor David Perry. Perry thought the area, soon to be replaced by the habitat, was unloved and underutilized. Neighbor and landscape architect Mike Mazza of MZA Design volunteered to design the habitat, which will transform the area between the front walkway and the playground into a festive greenspace. Mazza also contributed plants. Kristin LoVerde, from Sutherland Elementary School, and Val Kehoe, from the University of Illinois Extension, helped with advice and other information for completing the grant.
Kellogg is known for its beautiful grounds and garden. The pollinator habitat will expand the school’s existing pollinator, from only two bee hives to also include a butterfly-pollinator garden on the south side of the school. Though the group has until next year to complete the project, Lambert hopes the garden will be up and running in June of this year.
“The plan Kellogg posted says “Phase 2” on it, which is because we’d like to eventually expand the habitat so that it flanks the front entrance. We’ll need to raise more funds to do that, so (the addition of the butterfly pollinator) is the latest expansion, but hopefully it won’t be the last,” Lambert said.
Students assisted with the preparation of the grant by measuring the space for the garden. During the summer, student volunteers water the garden and assist with planting.
“Gardening is happening and being shared by Kellogg students virtually even with the school closure,” Principal Cory Overstreet said.
After the quarantine, Lambert hopes to continue to remotely share Kellogg’s gardens and pollinator habitats to educate school and community families in addition to students not involved in the Garden Club.
“We could certainly video the planting (from a distance) and share that online. We could also show and describe some of the plants on Kellogg’s website and Facebook pages,” Lambert said.
Principal Overstreet credits the school’s Garden Club with acquiring the grant. The club, which meets year-round, consists of parent, student, and community volunteers and is one of Kellogg’s most popular after school programs.
“Neighbors have shared with me that they love seeing Kellogg’s gardens coming back to life and expanding. It makes them smile when walking through the neighborhood,” he said.