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Gardening with Kids

harllee school habitatIt seems kids today are spending more time inside on computers and playing video games, instead of playing outside in nature. It is increasingly difficult to get them outside especially during the school year. What if you had a project that would get them outside, allow you to spend time together as a family and teach them about wildlife and nature all at the same time? There is such a program. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) have wonderful tips on how to create a wildlife habitat. Both offer wildlife certifications if you follow their guidelines and FWF offers a kids habitat contest. Gardening with kids can be rewarding for you as well as the kids.

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment; have a small yard or 5-acre property. You can easily create a native wildlife garden that attracts butterflies, birds, frogs, squirrels and other native wildlife. Your habitat should provide food, water, and shelter for native wildlife. Replacing a portion of your lawn with

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native flowers and plants or a water garden will give the added bonus of beautifying your property while conserving water and energy.

Creating a habitat with your children will teach them respect for wildlife and nature and will show them that you care about the earth. How about sharing with more than just your own children? School habitats are becoming more popular with some schools taking it a step further creating sustainable gardens planting herbs and vegetables too. Backyard Getaway is a part of one such program. We work together with a local artist to teach students through hands on classes how to create native wildlife habitats partnered with unique outdoor art. The teachers are able to utilize the habitat through out the school year with the students existing math and science curriculum.

 

To create your habitat follow these basic guidelines:

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Provide Food for wildlife: Everyone needs to eat, plant native plants & trees to provide nectar, pollen, berries & seeds or provide bird feeders.

Provide Water Source: Wildlife need sources of clean water for drinking, bathing & reproduction. A pond or water feature, birdbath or small dish with water works great. If you are concerned about mosquitoes there are natural products available to keep them from breeding
Provide Cover & places to raise young: Wildlife need a place to hide to feel safe from people, predators & bad weather. Shrubs, trees, brush piles a hollowed out log or a couple of tipped terra cotta pots will do the trick. Bird houses, butterfly houses and bathouses can also be used.
Go Green to Conserve Water: Add mulch, reduce lawn areas, use rain barrels & remove invasive plants to help conserve water.
Certify your habitat with FWF or NWF!

To learn more about the available programs visit:

Backyard Getaway’s School habitat projects: http://backyardgetaway.net/schoolproject.html
FWF habitat programs: http://www.fwfonline.org/Habitat/Wildlife-Habitat-Program.aspx
NWF habitat program:http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx

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