LOS ANGELES, CA – When it comes to learning about the environment, there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty.
Students worked alongside volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, Lowe’s and their community during a garden work day at the Environmental Charter Middle School-Gardena on Friday. The team created a hanging garden beneath a stairwell; built new windowboxes and planters along the school’s exterior walls and fences to beautify their neighborhood; and added new plants including native species to attract butterflies and birds.
“The Nature Conservancy is committed to connecting people and nature, and we can think of no better place to begin this connection than with our students,” said Kate Ireland, director of Youth Engagement for The Nature Conservancy.
“We’re working to expand who has access to nature, and who sees themselves as a conservationist. We believe that diverse, young voices are critical to create a sustainable future world, and that programs such as Nature Works Everywhere grants help bring greater equity of access to nature for all students,” Ireland said.
Friday, volunteers from Lowe’s joined Nature Conservancy staff, the school community and the local Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, for a garden workday. Student coordinators Gema Aguirre, Abigaile Osorio, Ignacio Esquivel, Jessica Soto will lead teams of students to complete the projects.
“With consistency, I am a firm believer that students will accomplish the goals you set before them. At ECMS-Gardena, our students are environmental civic leaders for their communities because of the experiential learning outcomes that are embedded within our educational model,” said Dr. Qiana O’Leary, ECMS-Gardena principal. “Simply put, we teach them that taking care of our world is the right thing to do.”
ECMS-Gardena, located in South Bay, Los Angeles, is one of more than 50 schools in 15 states to receive a Nature Works Everywhere school garden grant this year. The program, led by The Nature Conservancy and supported by Lowe’s, gives grants to urban schools to build or improve school gardens or other environmental projects. The grants are designed to connect students to a global challenge, to understand and protect the natural systems that produce our food, water, clean air and energy.
Volunteers from local Lowe’s stores, called Lowe’s Heroes, helped the students realize their garden goals, while Los Angles Lowe’s stores donated the plants and other materials needed to create what the students envisioned.
Lowe’s has supported the Conservancy’s work for a decade, contributing more than $12 million to protect important freshwater and forest lands across North America, and to advance environmental youth programs and help build the next generation of conservationists, including providing support for more than 100 Nature Works Everywhere grants to schools in recent years.
Schools across the country can apply for the next round of Nature Works Everywhere grants in 2019. Grants of $2,000 will be awarded to support projects that implement green infrastructure to address local environmental challenges, including: access to healthy food, air quality, heat island effect, climate change, and storm water collection.
Lowe’s is committed to educating, inspiring, and empowering the next generation of conservation leaders. As a primary supporter of Nature Conservancy youth programs, Lowe’s helps fund: grants to schools to build or revitalize school gardens and implement natural solutions in urban communities, virtual field trips and online curriculum for teachers and students, and internships for high school and college students from cities across the U.S.
The Nature Conservancy is a global organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.
ECMS-Gardena (ECMS-G) is a free, public middle school in South Los Angeles that offers students a small, caring educational environment while placing an emphasis on social responsibility. Supporting their transition from elementary school, the rigorous academic program prepares students for a college-prep high school. ECMS-G is one of three campuses of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), including Environmental Charter Middle School – Inglewood (ECMS-I) and Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) in Lawndale. A network of free public schools in underserved communities of South Los Angeles, the mission of Environmental Charter Schools is to create and deliver vibrant, innovative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities using the environment to engage students and connect them to the wider world.