Native Planting Project

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The middle school now features a new garden, complete with organic, indigenous species to attract local and migratory insects, butterflies and birds.

The garden, which was made possible through a New York State Retirement Teachers Association grant, was designed and constructed during the past 10 months by middle school students.

During their free time, students made soil amendments, raised plants from seed, set drop hose irrigation, mulched and planted specimen plants from local nurseries, while also learning about local plant and animal species.  

“More than 200 students regularly got their hands dirty preparing the garden, as well as planting and watering,” said teacher Rick Nydegger. “The sense of pride and ownership from the students speaks volumes about the project.”

Among the species the students planted were milkweed, golden rod, beach plum, salvia and Eastern Prickly pear.

The garden, which has been recognized by Monarch Watch as a certified way station for butterflies and the National Wildlife Federation as a certified wildlife habitat, will now serve as a base for future longitudinal studies by students, including monarch tagging, insect identification and seed stratification.

Additionally, the project helped the school foster new relationships with the LI Pine Barrens Society, the New York State DEC, the LI Native Plant Initiative, Hampton Nursery and Lynch’s Nursery.