Templeton Guide|Friday, March 24, 2017
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Templeton Elementary School sees success with recycling grant 

Students in the outdoor learning area.

Students in the outdoor learning area.

Funds allow for establishment of outdoor environmental education area

–Staff and students at Templeton Elementary School utilized their grant funds from Templeton Community Services District’s 2015 Recycling Grant Program to establish an outdoor environmental education area for students. This learning area provides young minds with a wonderful opportunity to learn about plants, composting, recycling, and watersheds.

Teachers Krissy Lorz, Joe Kirschner and Gilda Zimmerling have been heavily-involved with the project. Lorz and Zimmerling worked hard on weekends and during the summer to prepare the outdoor area for the 2015-16 school year. Zimmerling met with students and worked with them to create decorative mosaics, which were made using repurposed tiles donated from Blue Heron pools and repurposed plates donated from various sources. Kirschner has been active in developing lessons with science standards such as garden mapping, plant observation, and plant identification.

The little green thumbs garden where students plant a wide variety of vegetables and flowers.

The little green thumbs garden where students plant a wide variety of vegetables and flowers.

School counselor Kelly Meece gives some students “movement breaks” in the outdoor learning area. The outdoor education area helps children learn about sustainability and become knowledgeable about important environmental subjects from a young age.

Students enjoy the “learn by doing” approach and love digging, using tools, and breaking down compost. After a few classes outdoors, there is almost no need to provide them with directions. Children receive leadership experience by recognizing what needs to be done in the garden, designing posters for sales, packaging seeds, and running mini farmer’s markets. The students take pride and ownership in their outdoor garden, inevitably showing it off to their parents. Some students are part of the Green Team, which is a group of students with special interest in recycling. Students in the Green Team take care of compost, encourage fellow students to recycle, and teach them what can be recycled and how composting works.

The school receives generous seed donations from Nature’s Touch and from parents. There is no limitation to the types of plants students plant in the garden, so they get to learn about a variety of different types of vegetation. The school purchased stock tanks from Atascadero Hay and Feed.

The elementary school has a greenhouse, and even a solar oven that Kirschner has used to make kale chips. A majority of the fruits and vegetables harvested in the garden are given straight to the cafeteria to be used for meals. Foods scraps then go straight into the compost. Talk about sustainable eating!

The outdoor learning area with mosaics created by students, using a combination of math and art, and plants planted by students.

The outdoor learning area with mosaics created by students, using a combination of math and art, and plants planted by students.

According to Lorz and Kirschner, the next step for the area is honing the connection between the garden, cafeteria, and compost. They also hope to further improve sustainability, and potentially include technology in the lesson plans.

Lorz, Kirschner and Ms. Zimmerling would like to extend a big “thank you” to all of the community members involved with the program, from donating supplies to volunteering in the garden. Special thanks to the school district’s MOT Department for their continued support helping to install the project, and to the school administration for helping make environmental education a reality.

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