SPAWN is working with local elementary school and high school students to find and work towards solutions to diverse environmental problems.
Growing and Planting Redwoods to Sequester Carbon SPAWN has grown redwood seedlings with local elementary school students since 2016. Over the past five years we have grown more than 1,500 seedlings at schools. In past years we have had students help us collect redwood seeds in December, and then we visited the students at their school in January to help them sow seeds into flats. The students, typically 4th graders, care for their seedlings until the end of the school year, when they are brought to SPAWN Nursery to grow for about 2 ½ more years prior to being outplanted at one of our restoration sites or are given to project partners. In addition to gaining experience in caring for plants, students learn about how to take positive actions that mitigate climate change and learn about redwood forest ecology. Nursery Manager Audrey Fusco, who leads the Redwoods In Schools program, says, “One of my favorite aspects of this program is knowing that students form a bond with their seedlings throughout the school year. I have visited schools to monitor the seedlings and found students sitting by the trees during their recess time! One student told me that she visits her tree daily to watch it grow.”
Growing Riparian Trees to Support Coho Salmon Marin Academy ecology students grow riparian trees and shrubs for our restoration projects, and in the process they conduct research to find the best soil profile and propagation techniques for all of the plants they grow. Students carefully study the ecological profile of each plant, learning about plant-wildlife interactions, ethnobotanical uses, bank placement, and plant requirements, along with learning how to propagate the plants. At the end of the school year, SPAWN Nursery receives a set of about 10 different species grown by Marin Academy as well as new propagation tips from the students!
Growing Milkweed to Support the Western Monarch Butterfly Glenwood Academy originally partnered with SPAWN to grow redwoods at their school. In spring 2020, SPAWN helped the Glenwood Green Team install a monarch waystation. Monarchs appeared at the waystation in fall 2020 (and fall 2021!), and many caterpillars grew on the newly planted narrow-leaf milkweed! So many hungry caterpillars grew that we decided to start growing narrow-leaf milkweed with the 4th graders instead of redwoods. Students sowed milkweed seeds in January 2020, and successfully germinated and cared for more than 200 milkweed plants. Glenwood Elementary kept 40 plants and now have planters of milkweed set around all of the classrooms. The remaining milkweed plants are being given away through the SPAWN tropical milkweed trade-out initiative.
Planting Habitat Gardens at Local Schools Bringing Nature to School is a collaborative program between SPAWN, Homeground Habitats, and partner schools in Marin County, California. The goal of this program is to establish schoolyard habitat gardens. In addition to providing habitat for wildlife, the students at partner schools can enjoy hands-on learning in natural outdoor spaces. Four school gardens have been created in Marin County since the project began in fall 2020. All four of the gardens that we have created so far contain nectar plants which are utilized by monarchs during their migration to and from their coastal overwintering grounds. Two of the gardens are located far enough from overwintering areas to contain milkweed, while the other two gardens provide nectar and cover for monarchs. In addition to planting monarch waystations, we have contributed plants and assistance to several schools that are working with creek restoration projects at or near their schools.
Field Trips to Habitat Restoration Project Sites Over the past decade SPAWN has hosted visits from dozens of schools and student groups at our native plant nursery and salmon habitat restoration sites in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Please contact us if you are interested in bringing your class out to view Coho salmon migrating upstream, learn about restoration, and help us with projects such as propagating plants in our native plant nursery or planting at one of our restoration project sites.