Westview Habitat Nature Center
While still teaching at JC Knight, Barbara Jones and Nicki Gosser thought about using the newly formed courtyard, created with the Westview expansion-building project, to do some gardening activities. They both attended the Garden Spectrum workshop at the Minnitrista Cultural Center and various sessions at the schoolyard habitat. With the support, encouragement, and even backbreaking help of Mr. Parr Reed, principal at Westview, and three years of work, the habitat is now taking shape.
Each spring for the past few years, we held school-wide "planting days." In the spring of '04, the second and third grade classes prepared and planted a sunflower house. Funds for this project were obtained through a Vectren grant. Then, with administrative approval and funding, Westview held a summer gardening class for three weeks in June 2004. Sixteen students from various grade levels attended. During this summer program, there was a lot of weeding and planting of perennials donated by Marion Gardening Club and Home Depot. The students also planted a Three Sisters garden, a vegetable garden, and a one-acre prairie site.
Throughout the school year, we use and maintain the habitat in various ways. The gifted and talented art class painted a beautiful mural depicting the seasons on the outer walls of the shed. As part of their community service project, Mississinewa High School students exempt from ISTEP testing worked in the habitat. They moved dirt and mulch, built flower boxes, and dug a small pond and riverbed. Fourth and fifth grade students perform regular maintenance during their science class and recess. The habitat is blooming into a valuable resource that our teachers and students utilize for a variety of fun and educational activities. As the staff grows in knowledge and the students’ interests change, we expect the habitat to continue to change and grow, just like the plants within the habitat itself.