Wild Ones   Seeds for Education  
More Information:
Seeds for Education Grants
Next Generation
A Tapestry of Learning
SFE Success Stories
Background and History

The Wild Ones Seeds for Education Program (SFE) began in 1996 and was named in honor of naturalist and inspirational leader Lorrie Otto. The program encourages Wild Ones members (as parents, grandparents and community members) to help children learn about the natural world.

Many Wild Ones support community efforts to establish or maintain natural areas, and work with local schools, scout groups and other organizations to create butterfly gardens, rainwater gardens, or other projects.

The Wild Ones mission (to educate and share information about the benefits of natural landscaping using native species to promote biodiversity and environmentally sound practices) encourages members to interact with the community. As members see the results of their native landscaping in their backyards, they begin to notice other areas in their communities where naturally landscaping could be beneficial. They also become aware of community efforts to help children learn about the natural world. Many members support these efforts.

The focus we use in supporting youth programs can be remembered by using the acronym PLUMES.

P - Parents Involve the parents and neighbors.

L - Lesson Plans It is one thing to have a nice school natural area, and another to have the teachers utilize its potential.

U - Us! The local chapter of the Wild Ones serves as a source of volunteers and knowledge.

M - Maintenance staff. These folks need to be on board.

E - Educators Include several core teachers and the principal.

S - Students! The kids need to be involved in the all aspects of a project, from the idea and the design to the planting and maintenance, and then finally in the use of the natural area.

Ideally each project has a steering committee composed of members of the groups described in PLUMES.

Lesson Plans There has been increasing pressure to teach to the standardized tests that do not contain environmental questions. It is becoming difficult for a teacher to justify time spent in a natural area. The key is to use the area to teach other core subjects using the plants and insects as hands-on learning. For example, the art class could sketch the flowers and the math class could calculate the germination rate of seeds.

"Without good science we are ignorant, ignorant of the relationship between thistles and painted ladies, between frogs and pesticides, between ourselves and the natural world around us. And, that could be deadly." -- Janice Cook


Photograph copyright (c) David Borneman.

Information for Youth Projects

  • An excellent educational piece to use for annual Earth Day celebrations, the 2010 Michigan Native Plant Coloring Book encourages children to become involved in nature through the introduction of native plants to their landscape. Wildflower species in the coloring book are typical of native plants found throughout much of the Midwest. See also the 2009 Michigan Native Plant Coloring Book.

  • The Return of the Karner Blue Butterflies is a free book that you can be read with or by children or students to teach them about the remarkable life of the Karner Blue Butterfly. Download the Book Download the Lesson Plans

  • The National Wildlife Federation has lots of useful information on creating a school yard habitat.
  • Project WILD is a great source for teachers and environmental educators across the U.S.
  • Similar information is available from a Canadian viewpoint at the Evergreen Foundation.
  • While not focused on native plants, the web pages of the National Gardening Association provide a wealth of information about integrating garden projects into school activities.

    For curriculum assistance, try these web resources for school natural areas. You'll find a similar list on the Wild Ones CD "A Tapestry of Learning: Creating School Natural Areas."

  • Acorn Naturalists
  • Big Bluestem Press
  • Why Butterflies Matter: A Primer for Kids. The Butterfly Project works to educate kids about native plants and insects.
  • Center for Environmental Education (New England)
  • Climate Change: A Wisconsin Activity Guide produced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for use by educators in their classrooms and as activities. Designed to teach 7th to 12th grade students about how climate change affects all Wisconsin residents, it includes twelve engaging activities suitable for classes in English and language arts, environmental education, math, science, art and social studies.
  • Dragonfly Magazine
  • Earth Partnership Program
  • Environmental Education Link
  • Environmental Education and Training Partnership
  • Environmental Education for Kids
  • Environmental Connections
  • Evergreen
  • Five Minute Field Trips
  • Green Brick Road
  • Green Teacher Magazine
  • Green Thumb Guide
  • Greening schoolgrounds
  • Kids and Education from the Iowa Living Roadway trust fund
  • Learning Network Teacher Channel Science Monthly
  • National Wildlife Federation Environmental Education
  • National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitats Listserv
  • Nebraska's Project WILD
  • Rivers of Life
  • Minnesota's SEEK
  • Soundprints
  • The Secret Forest Experience
  • Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
  • Monarch Watch
  • North American Butterfly Assoc
  • Kids gardening with vegetable and flower gardens
  • An Educator's Directory of Government & Foundation Resources for Environmental Education in the Tallgrass Prairie States.
  • "In Grandpa's Woods" Online version of a picture book for 4-7 year-old children.
  • Environmental science and the role humans play in the natural world -- the Bell Museum distance learning program for students grades 4-8.
  • "The Forest Where Ashley Lives."The online version. 1.5MB PDF file.
  • Earth Force Engaging young people as active citizens who improve the environment and their communities now and in the future.
  • Give Water a Hand Young people teaming up with educators, natural resource experts, and committed community members to study water issues and take action.
  • MidLink Magazine Highlighting exemplary work from the most creative classrooms around the globe.
  • National Science Teachers Association Promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.
  • North American Association for Environmental Education A network of professionals, students, and volunteers working in the field of environmental education throughout North America and in over 55 countries around the world.
  • Tread Lightly Empowering generations to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
  • Raise Your Online Butterfly.
  • Live Monarch Foundation – Butterfly Wish Fund
  • Weland Youth Leadership Program
  • Extensive Listing of Butterfly Sites
  • LinC is a new open-access electronic journal containing resources for teaching conservation.

    Two reading sources recommended by the National Audubon Society are:

    • How to Create and Nurture a Nature Center in Your Community by Brent Evans & Carolyn Chipman-Evans, copyright 1998 Univ of Texas Press
    • The Nature Center Handbook Vol 1, “a Manual of Best Practices from the Field” by Norma Jeanne Byrd, Assoc of Nature Center Administrators, copyright 1998

    Other links of interest:

    Here's some info and research summaries from Cornell:

  • Go Out and Play: Celebrating Urban Birds.
  • A room with a view helps rural children deal with life's stresses, Nancy Wells at Cornell seems to do a lot of this kind of research.
  • Living amid green space is highly beneficial to children.
  • Landscape and Human Health Library. In the menu on the left of this web site, there are links to a variety of research on the beneficial effects of nature on children, and also one showing that crime is less in vegetated areas.

  • Be a part of No Child Left Inside. For more information about what you can do to help and the NCLI Coaltion.

    Wild Ones has joined Green Charter Schools in their mission to support the establishment, enhancement and advancement of charter schools with environment-focused educational programs and practices.

    Across North America, kids are helping the environment with butterfly gardens, rain gardens, tree planting, prairie restorations and other projects. Sometimes these projects are connected to schools, Scouts or other organizations. Others are simply kids' response to what they see and hear in their neighborhoods. Here's a new Internet resource to propagate ideas and inspiration. Kidsplant.blogspot.com has photos, stories and links to other sources of information.

    Every school needs a nature trail and every person -- adult or young -- needs a bit of wilderness if wonder, reverence and awe are to be cultivated. William O. Douglas, former Justice of the Supreme Court

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    Updated: May 23, 2011.