As summer winds down and the beginning of school approaches, thoughts are running through my mind of how we can reach out to young folks to tell them about native plants. In previous articles I’ve listed resources that might be helpful and give ideas for youth activities or programs. Here are some new and some repeated resources.
I recently stumbled into a good resource from the International Junior Master Gardener program based at Texas A&M. The program has an Excellence in Children’s Literature Award that is announced annually. The cumulative list with a brief summary of each book is available at www.jmgkids.us/bookawards. After looking through several years of awards, I saw several books that might be good inspiration for members and/or discussion starters with youth of various ages:
- Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken (Ages 4-10)
- The Prairie That Nature Built by Mary Beth Lorbiecki (No age recommendation)
- Our School Garden! by Rick Swann (Ages 8-12)
- Water, Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Demos Halpin (Ages 8-12)
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Ages 4-12)
- Mother Earth and Her Children by Sybil Von Olfers and Sieglinde Schoen-Smith (Ages 4-12)
- The Old Tree by Ruth Brown (Ages 4-12)
- A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston (Ages 4-12)
- Miss Ladybird’s Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt (Ages 4-12)
- A Place to Grow by Stephanie Bloom (Ages 4-8)
These books could be used as the start of a project, such as a school garden or making seed balls. They could start a discussion of conservation or the study of plant biology. For members with prairies nearby, The Prairie That Nature Built would be a great resource to use either in preparation for a field trip to a prairie or as a follow-up study after a visit to one. The books would also be wonderful gifts for the grandchildren!
Don’t forget all the programs and ideas available from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at www.wildflower.org/kids_programs/. Teaching materials and other resources are available at www.wildflower.org/teachers/. If you or your local school is taking students to visit the Wildflower Center, check out student activities to do onsite at www.wildflower.org/youthactivities/. For Wildflower Center or Society members or teachers interested in planting native seeds or creating a prairie at a school, check out www.wildflower.org/wildflowers/ for information on how to apply for a gift certificate of “Seed Money” to purchase seed from Native American Seed valued at $100. What a deal! Check out these websites for inspiration
Of course the Native Plant Society has its own grants available to create butterfly gardens. Remember that the application must be made by March 15 of the year the grant is needed. Get all the details at npsot.org/wp/monarchs/.