Nature in the Neighborhood

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Published on: Nov. 14, 2012

small, nonprofit school for ages pre-K through eighth grade, as an outdoor and conservation education site. “When our school acquired our LaBarque Creek Campus, we saw it as a tremendous opportunity to enhance our environmental and sustainability education programs,” says Tim.

The school’s staff wanted to be good land stewards and turned to MDC for land management advice. “Grant funding was used to purchase tools to remove invasive species and purchase native trees, shrubs, and wildflower seeds to replace them,” says Tim. “Our school community pitched in to plant trees, grow wildflowers, and cut down bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, and eastern red cedars. The student, parent, and teacher support for this project has been phenomenal.”

In order to care about something, we first need to feel some sort of attachment to it. It is hard to care about riparian corridors if you feel no connection with a river. But play in a creek, watch water striders skim the surface, feel your bobber pulled under by a longear sunfish, and the river is suddenly and irreversibly relevant and valuable to you. Educators say children need to learn to love the outdoors before they can understand conservation problems or concerns. Adults are no different; as community members experience the wonder of the natural world, they value and support conservation more.

Tim’s experience working with The College School community—teachers, parents, and students alike—exemplifies this connection. The people who have come to work on the projects funded by MDC have not only helped to accomplish our goals, they have been enriched and changed by the work we have completed,” he says. “As a group, we are forming a learning community that is committed to protecting and restoring the environment.”

Bethany-Peace United Church of Christ

Paul Emily is pastor of Bethany-Peace United Church of Christ in north St. Louis County. In 2008, some of his parishioners approached him about doing something about the vacant acre of land next to the church grounds. “The area was adjacent to the parking lot and caught all the runoff water from the lot and building,” says Paul. “This produced an area that was of little use because of frequent standing water, and it was expensive to maintain through mowing. Reconstructing prairie on the site not only reduced costs of upkeep, but is a tangible way our congregation strives to be better stewards of our property.”

Paul received a small

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