View north 1999
Putting in pond
|How the Garden was started |
Our garden consists of a 0.4-acre courtyard between two wings of our school. The planning for the garden was done in the spring of 1999. Each fourth grade class inventoried the physical features of the courtyard, researched what resources for food water and shelter we would need to include, and developed a landscape plan. We also surveyed the biodiversity that we had in the courtyard establishing a baseline that we could compare to in successive years
During the summer 1999, the landscape plans were sent to a variety of experts who rated the plans and picked one to implement in our courtyard. In September, we started two Junior Master Gardener chapters to involve our students in planning and laying out the garden. These JMG chapters laid out the gardens and established the pathway. Two Eagle Scout Projects, in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 175, erected the fence, which defines the garden space and established a pond to give our garden a water source. We broke ground on planting our garden in spring 2000 with plants donated from the Permian Basin Master Gardeners. We moved in bark which was donated by Texas Department of Transportation, surveyed the biodiversity again and contoured an elevation map for the courtyard. Since then over 4000 volunteer hours and hundreds of individuals have given of their time, effort, and expertise to turn our weedy school lot into an area alive with color, movement, and noise. Each year every student at Carver participates in a fall and spirng workday in the courtyard, their chance to continue the volunteer spirit that built the courtyard.
Over the last years, we have seen the number of alien plant species decrease and the number of natives increase. We have also seen the percent cover of the various plant species change. Concurrently, we have seen changes in the invertebrate and vertebrate populations although we can only speculate about what causes these changes.
But academic learning is not the only learning that takes place. Students and adults alike have been awed by the glorious color of spring blooms, amazed by the resiliency of the monarchs we've tagged, and left speechless by the aerial assault of a sharp shin hawk or a hapless sparrow. We've seen dragonfly nymphs hatch out and stood silently while hummingbirds fed so close we could almost touch them. We've witnessed the return of juvenile Texas horned lizards and watched as the muhly grass sways in a cold north wind. The goal of our project was to see if we could positively increase biodiversity by creating a more natural habitat in our courtyard. In accomplishing this goal, we created a place where children can learn, grow and discover.
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To see a summary of the work that has been done in the courtyard each year click on thelink below:
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|Highlights through the Years || |
Our NWF Placque
|Designation as a National Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat |
Click here for more information on NWF and the Schoolyard Habitat Programs
In 1999, with a dream and a great deal of enthusiasm, Hummingbird Haven, Carver Center’s Biodiverse garden was born. The gardens were created to provide habitat for wildlife and learning opportunities for students. With countless volunteer hours and community support, our dreams have become a reality. In 2001, fourth grade students wrote up an application for certification as a National Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat and in September 2002, the gardens became the 1681st National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat in the US. Each year MISD students from kindergarten to high school use the gardens to learn about our native plant and animals communities. The gardens reflect not only our past work but also the hope that they will continue to nurture a future generation of students and wildlife.
Students accepting our award on behalf of Carver.
| |Texas Environmental Excellence Award
Click here to go to the TECQ website, and view information about this prestigous award. In April 2004, we found out that Carver was the 2004 recipient for the prestigious Texas Environmental Excellence Award, Youth category. What a wonderful honor to receive the highest environmental award in Texas. In April, Dana Macomb and the TEEA crew came to Carver to make a video of our garden and students at work. Garden and Grow, the JMG chapters, fourth grade students and parents rallied to prepare the gardens. What a wonderful experience for our students. In May, a delegation of students, parents, teachers, Master Gardeners, and friends went to the TEEA banquet to receive the award. We toured the state capitol, where we were received by Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst. We were honored at the banquet and received a $1000 gift card from Home Depot. What a surprise we had when the Home Depot associates wheeled in wheelbarrows full of garden supplies and plants! What an amazing experience and honor for our students. In their words:
“While we were in Austin receiving our award we went to the capitol building. In the capital building we got our pictures taken with Texas state senator Kel Seliger and Lt. Governor Dewhurst. After we got our pictures taken Kel Seliger took us on a small tour of the capitol. After our tour we had a break. When our break was over we went to the Hilton to get our pictures taken with the environmental commissioners and to go to the awards ceremony. The awards ceremony was in the grand ballroom.
We found our table that had our name on it. Then we started eating our salad first. After that they brought us our main meal which was meat with spinach in the middle, mash potatoes, green beans and red pepper. Then they brought us chocolate cake.
When everyone finished, they awarded all the other winners and saved us for last. They called us up, gave us the award, and took the pictures with our award. When we were going off the stage, they told us to stay on. A Home Depot person came up and said he knew someone who wanted to make it special for Carver Center. So he decided to give us a gift card for Home Depot for $1000.
The next day we took a tour of the capitol. First we took a tour of the senate chamber. The longest time ever spoken was forty-three and a half hours on the same topic, without stopping and standing. Then we toured the house chambers. After the chambers we went under the capitol. The first tour under the capitol was under the rotunda. Then there was a monument of all the Texans that died in Vietnam, North Korea, World War I and World War II. Then we went into a open rotunda. The tour said that the open rotunda was used for the ball room for Spy Kids 2.”
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In 2007, JMGers with the help of Permian Basin Master Gardeners, The Rainwell of Dallas, Texas, Martin Bucy and assorted family and friends installed two rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks to store 3100 gallons of rainwater collected from the roof. The water is used to irrigate and refill the pond. In December 2008, the JMGers work was recognized when the Teas Water Development Board awarded Carver Center the Fall 2008 Texas Rain Catcher Award. Click here to see the award. For a video our JMGers did about water conservation, click here.
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In 2008-2009, with a Grant for Good Ideas from the MISD Education Foundation, we undertook several projects to make the courtyard more energy and water efficient. The most visible is the solar pump which pumps water form the main pump of the pond into a bog area. In addition, our pond has been updated and sourced with rainwater from the RWH system and appropriate irrigation techniques are used throughout the garden. The grant also purchased solar cells and voltmeters used to help us site our solar panel.
| ||In May of 2010, the courtyard and the pond were completely flooded in the 4" rain event we had. Knowing the damage flooding does to the courtyard, Carter Conlin, a former GEM student and JMGer decided to undertake an Eagle Scout project to alleviate this problem. During the summer Carter Conlin and Boy Scout Troop 231, added a water retention basin to reduce flooding in the courtyard during large rain events. Thank you so much Carter, the Conlin family, Boy Scout Troop 231, Westlake Hardware, Kelly Cook and James Riggens. |