Linton Springs fourth-grade class leads project for new winter garden

NEIGHBORS

May 28, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PUPILS AT Linton Springs Elementary School participated recently in the creation of a winter garden.

The Sykesville school's winter garden was designed to be a safe environment for wildlife, with plants to provide food and shelter. Parent volunteers, teachers and pupils of all grade levels were enthusiastic about the project, which was directed by Pam Sherfey's fourth-grade class.

The class began working on the project in January and completed every phase, from research and planning to planting and mulching, Sherfey said.

The class began the project by researching animals that frequent the area. They visited the site during class time and noted which animals were present. They also made plaster castings of footprints to determine what other animals might frequent the area.

From their research, they identified a number of wildlife species, such as foxes, deer, pheasants, rabbits, groundhogs and various insects. They then researched each species to determine its food and habitat needs.

Using gardening catalogs, the class chose plants that would benefit the animals. After choosing plants, the class was divided into four groups. Each group was given a section of ground to plan on a grid, making sure each plan would fit with the others.

Pupils determined what materials and equipment they would need. Then, in late March, they wrote the grant requesting funding for the project from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Their request was approved.

"The kids handled every aspect of this project; I'm so proud of them," said Sherfey, recounting the time and effort her class put into the project.

As part of the planning phase, Sherfey's class kept other pupils informed about the project by visiting classes in pairs to explain each step.

Sherfey said they were acting as mentors, and at the same time gaining support for the project - which would be needed on the day the work was to take place. Everyone's help would be necessary to complete the large task.

On May 15, under bright sunshine, the planting began. Sherfey's class stayed at the site all day to help direct other children as they came to help. They had lunch there, unwilling to leave until the project was completed.

The project was well-planned. Tasks were divided up, with each grade level assigned a responsibility. The fifth-graders' job was to fill buckets with dirt from a nearby area for use during planting. Sherfey's class placed the plants on the ground in their proper locations, according to their planting grids.

Other fourth-grade classes helped dig holes and plant. The third-graders mulched around the new plants, and the second-graders watered the new plants, using plastic milk jugs.

First-graders helped spread the remaining mulch over the area, and kindergartners were to water the plants again a week later.

At scheduled intervals, classes appeared at the site to assist with the project. Sherfey's class rose to the occasion and assumed leadership roles, directing pupils in various tasks.

"Here come the third-graders," yelled Tyler Wheeler, 9, and Tyler Evans, 10, putting their classmates on alert that the next phase of the project was about to begin.

"How've we been doing, Tyler?" Josh Duvall, 9, asked Tyler Evans as he looked at the work in progress and reviewed his grid. "Do we have all the plants in the right order?"

Sherfey looked on and remarked: "They are so independent. They know just what they are doing."

The winter garden is adjacent to a nature trail and wetlands project, all bearing Sherfey's signature. Her previous fourth-grade class undertook the wetlands restoration project.

Sherfey's son Jeremy completed the nature trail and a footbridge as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Debra Taylor Young's neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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