District's Naturescape Partnership with County Continues to Grow

Created: 8/17/2010 11:13:22 AM Updated: 12:00:00 AM

The NatureScape partnership between Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Broward County Commissioners, established in 2007, has matured into one that increasingly provides useful resources for teachers, BCPS staff and students.

One goal of the partnership, which continues to expand, is to establish indigenous ecological habitats at schools that not only support the environment but also serve as educational “labs” for students. Each habitat contains native trees and plants and utilizes plant materials that conserve water. Habitats have already been established at 28 schools, with eight more slated for the coming school year. Those include Nova, New River, Margate, Walter C. Young, New Renaissance, Plantation, Ramblewood and Olsen middle schools.

As part of the partnership, BCPS grounds keeping personnel receive training in irrigation fundamentals and repair, landscape best practices and an overview of NatureScape. Teachers attend workshops with an environmental focus where they learn how to incorporate conservation and “living green” material into the curriculum.

Students and staff have been taking part in various programs and projects inside and outside the classroom, including the planting of learning gardens to benefit people and wildlife, container gardening, the three ëRsí ñ reduce, reuse and recycle and ways of reducing pollution. Students and staff have also received pledge cards to remind them to “go green” and have participated in community outreach projects.

Gary Hines, the District's environmental resource manager and primary liaison with the county on the partnership said, “The significant water savings realized at BCPS facilities as a result of this partnership agreement, translates into decreased operational costs and energy savings. Overall, the program's activities have resulted in a stronger commitment to an environmental stewardship ethic among Broward's students, teachers, staff and community members.”

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