December 5, 2016—The Schoolyard Habitat Program (SYH) is a partnership between Audubon Connecticut, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and numerous other local partners that together work with schools to transform schoolyards into viable habitats for birds and quality learning spaces for students. SYH is also part of Audubon Connecticut's Urban Oases Program—an initiative that is creating a network of habitats across Connecticut's parks, neighborhoods, and schoolyards into quality stopover habitat for millions of migrating songbirds. These habitats are also improving human and watershed health, revitalizing neighborhoods, increasing knowledge about Long Island Sound, and engaging communities in conservation action.
To date, Audubon Connecticut and partners have created 17 schoolyard habitats across the state. This academic year we welcome 8 more:
- Davis Street Arts & Academics School, New Haven
- Fair Haven School, New Haven
- John C. Daniels School of International Communication, New Haven
- Quinnipiac Real World Math STEM School, New Haven
- Casimir Pulaski Elementary School, Meriden
- Discovery Interdistrict Magnet School, Bridgeport
- Franklin Elementary School, Stratford
- West Side Middle School, Danbury
Some early project brainstorming from these school habitat teams include plans for bird and pollinator habitats, sensory and rain gardens, and outdoor classroom features such as seating and reading circles.
Each school grant includes $3,000 to create a habitat and outdoor classroom project, a museum-quality interpretive sign for their habitat, and Audubon and partner staff support to help make their projects come to life. Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, these eight new schools will create certified schoolyard habitats and outdoor classrooms on school grounds. They will unveil their projects at the end of the school year and will earn their designation and national recognition by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Audubon, in partnership with Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, & Environmental Education Center, will provide teacher training in Audubon's Curriculum Guide to prepare and support teachers in using the outdoors to enhance student learning.
These 8 school grants were made possible by a generous donation from the Dalio Foundation. Additional support for Audubon's collaborative Schoolyard Habitat Projects come from: 1830 Foundation, Carolyn Foundation, Chisholm Thomson Family Foundation, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Disney Conservation Fund, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.