Characteristics and changes in populations

Roll Tide! Druid City Garden Project Grows Garden Based Education in Alabama

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Druid City Garden Program is a recipient of the 2013 Youth Garden Grant. View the winners of the 2014 Youth Garden Grant.

The Druid City Garden Project (DCGP) connects community through student led agriculture.  Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this non-profit organization uses school gardens, farm stands, and food education to grow their local food system. 

Paradise Found: The Vallarta Botanical Gardens

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The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a recipient of the 2013 Muhammad Ali Center Peace Garden Grant. Learn about the 2014 program winners

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens, located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is agrowing 20 acre paradise that provides opportunities for relaxation, recreation, and most important, education for local residents, youth groups, and tourists. Focused on conservation and research, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens (VBG) teaches classes on ecology, caring for the environment, gardening, identifiying edible plants of Vallarta’s forests, and an introduction to tropical dry forests of Western Mexico.

Taking It To the Bank

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Have you ever considered the importance of saving seeds? A seed represents the promise of life -- a new plant in a ready to grow package. It also contains that species’ genetic code including the traits the plant hopes will ensure its survival over the long haul. 

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Appalachain Expedition Part 1

The Expedition Begins

The Appalachians. Photo: TMIAfter weeks of planning and preparation, your expedition is finally going to begin. First you land at Logan County airport in Ethel, West Virginia. After renting a car, you drive 20 miles to the town of Hetzel.

Hetzel, the closest town to Blair Mountain, is where you will spend a day making final preparations for your expedition.

Ladybugs Lost and Found

A Tale of Schoolyard Citizen Science

Noelle Kramer hadn’t planned to delve into citizen science, but her students were rather persuasive. As her third and fourth graders in Dixon, California read aloud from Time for Kids, something sparked their interest. “An article on a citizen science program called The Lost Ladybug Project asked kids to become ladybug spotters in order to help scientists find a native species that had nearly disappeared,” says Noelle.

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The Tale of the Lost Ladybugs

Once the state insect of New York, the nine-spotted ladybug population diminished until it all but disappeared from the radar. In fact when some youngsters spotted one of them near their Virginia home in 2006, it was the first of that species seen in the Eastern United States in 14 years! John Losey and other scientists at Cornell University figured that if lots of eyes scoured the country, they might help find more of them along with some other native lady beetles that were also disappearing. And so, the Lost Ladybug Project was born. But it wasn’t just about documenting locals. Scientists – and many homeowners – noticed that populations of other ladybugs were exploding. This included the orangey Asian lady beetle, which was introduced in this country to control pests. Have these imports excluded the native species from their habitats? This is one of the questions that scientists are exploring, thanks to a growing team of citizen scientists.

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotpsots - Himalayan Expedition Part 1

The Expedition Begins

Mount Makalu in the background. Banana tree in the foreground. Photo: TMIAfter weeks of planning and preparation, your expedition is finally going to begin. First you land in Kathmandu, Nepal. You've planned to spend two days here, gathering together the rest of your gear and paying for a climbing permit. It's a bit disappointing that you are unable to see the mountains from the city. On some days, people can. On other days, like today, they are hidden behind air pollution.

A Weed By Any Other Name

"Our school's focus on multiculturalism prompted my thinking about how we might use studies of the diversity of plants to help us appreciate human diversity," reports Chapel Hill, NC, fifth grade teacher Barbara Elder. With support from the local botanic garden, Barbara's students had explored plant habitats and adaptations as part of their ecology unit. Their intrigue with kudzu, an introduced plant that has become a pernicious weed in the South, provided a focus for a range of cultural, geographic, ecological, math, and other investigations.

Growing Wildlife Habitats

"There is such a push to teach kids about biodiversity and interdependence through studying rainforests that are thousands of miles away, but it's much more powerful and effective to first explore these same concepts up close in our own backyards," says Waco, TX, educator Mary Nied Phillips.

In an effort to increase biodiversity on their urban school grounds, Mary's primary students turned a grassy courtyard into a thriving "wildscape."

Ecosystem Explorations

"Our sixth grade curriculum required us to cover concepts dealing with growth needs, adaptations, and ecosystems," reports Pocatello, ID, teacher Mary McAleese. "So we decided to bring in some live plants to explore up close." Since the classroom was short on light, Mary solicited donations from local plant businesses of tropical plants adapted to low-light conditions on rainforest floors. Before long, the students transformed the classroom into a 40-square-foot rainforest -- a centerpiece for plant and environmental studies, complete with a floor-to-ceiling canvas backdrop.

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Last updated on 04/25/2014
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