School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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You can find much of the expertise and many of the skills you need to help with planning, implementing, using and maintaining school grounds greening projects in your community. A lot of the grounds greening work can be done with school and community volunteers.

Many people do not immediately see how they can help with school grounds greening and outdoor classroom projects, and their use and maintenance unless they have an interest in gardening.

Go on the assumption that everyone has a valuable skill to contribute. You will need to show people how their skills can fit in with the project.

Some skills and areas of expertise required for school grounds projects are assumed whereas others are less obvious but equally important. You can find out what expertise and skills your school community has by having students organize a Skills Identification Survey.

Some examples:

Biologists to help teach children about wildlife in the schoolyard
Bird-watchers to help familiarize children with bird life attracted to the plantings. Interesting fact: Bird watching has become a major industry in North America (Canada, the United States and Mexico). It generates US $25 billion a year. It employs over 60,000 people. It rivals the economies of the chemical and steel industries. Bird watching depends upon the protection of wildlands and wilderness habitat. It thrives and grows on the protection of biodiversity. There is huge job-creation potential in environmentally-friendly jobs such as bird watching. Visit the Audubon Society website at
Ornithologists bird feeders, boxes and baths and to learn more about their habits and needs
Botanists to help teach children about plant life above and below the ground and to identify plants that move into school grounds habitat through various methods of seed dispersal
Composting Experts to help children learn about what happens to the food and yard waste they dispose of in worm and outdoor composters, help manage the process and use the compost to improve the soil;
Conservation people with conservation expertise to help with the management of existing or newly-created wildlife habitat
Designers to help children redesign their grounds
Ecologists to assist schools in improving the ecology of their grounds and learning about how to enhance local biodiversity through grounds projects
Entomologists to assist with identifying insects and creating insect habitat for class studies
Field Naturalist Clubs children often ask for after-school nature programmes - field naturalist clubs may be willing to help establish a nature club in your school and help with growing wildlife habitat;
Farmers farmers can help by donating materials such as trees and other plants, straw and well-rotted manure to start building healthier soil, advise on soil, soil nutrition, plant growth, etc.
First Nations to help children learn about how native peoples value the natural world
Foresters foresters can give assistance with choosing the right tree for the right site, explain how trees are affected by different environmental conditions soils, and advise on tree maintenance
Garden Care:
weeding, watering, harvesting, etc.
particularly during the Summer vacation, school grounds plantings need maintenance such as weeding and watering, and harvesting crops as they ripen to ensure that the level of care sends a strong message to people in the community about the importance of the grounds to the school
Gardeners gardening is one of the fastest growing past times in Canada. In multi-cultural schools, there are parents and older siblings with considerable agricultural expertise who, since leaving their own countries, no longer have access to a garden. They need to be approached in person and invited to help because they are shy about volunteering
Geographers to help add some geography to the political maps of Canada that some schools have painted on the asphalt - children say there would prefer to see geographic features and vegetation zones and their names, and the names of capital cities, major rivers and lakes, glaciers, islands and mountains.
Herbalists to teach children about how plants have been and are still used in all kinds of skin, hair and medicinal preparations
Horticulturist to help with growing plants and creating ideal conditions for them
Parks Planners people who work in municipal parks departments are often willing to help with school projects and can provide useful information on what resources are available in the community
Hydrologists to assist in water management and to advise on solving problems such as poor drainage
Landscape Architects to help with drawing up the final plan for the grounds (should it be required by the school board) after the school has completed the surveys and drafted their own plans
Land Surveyors to help determine the best location for projects
Meteorologists to help set up a weather monitoring station so that children can learn to record and track daily wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, the pH of rainwater and snow, and seasonal weather patterns
Organic Growers to help develop organic edible gardens to produce food for preparing at school
Outdoor Educators to help teachers integrate outdoor spaces into the curriculum and cross traditional subject boundaries
Permaculture Designers to help plan and plant self-sustaining plantings
Researchers people to help research all aspects of project planning and development and schools that are involved in similar grounds greening activities
Scientists to advise and help with science activities in the school grounds
Soil Analysts to involve children in identifying the pH of the soils in different locations in the school yard to help select the right plants for the planting sites
Surveying Skills to assist with conducting and organizing the initial school community and site surveys and to help with comparing and analyzing data collected annually on, for example, biodiversity, shade, and changes in student behaviour resulting from greening the grounds
Accountants to track donations and other revenues, expenses, receipts, etc. and reporting to funders
Celebrating people to help organize ceremonies to celebrate school grounds projects and other special school events held outdoors
Committee Work to organize and run the school grounds greening committee
Computer Skills to help design a school home page, track what other schools are doing through the internet, enter and organize data, produce flyers and posters, etc.
Database work people for keeping records of all aspects of project design, implementation and maintenance, survey results, funding, events, photographic record of projects, etc.
Fundraisers people to help the school write project proposals and apply for funds and in-kind donations is a very important (but not very popular) aspect of school grounds greening - but some people actually enjoy fundraising!
Health and Safety Experts to give advice on the health and safety aspects of projects
Journalists to help with writing articles for school newsletters, community newspapers and accounts of the development of the school's projects
Liaison to help communicate with the media, neighbours, community volunteers, school board officials, local government, potential funders, etc.
Members of Local Groups to spread the word about what your school is doing to others to help gain more support in the community
Networkers people to network with other schools who are greening their grounds
Photographers to help keep a photographic record of projects
Presenters for making presentations to different sectors of the community such as community groups, local businesses, government, school boards and potential funders
Public Relations for contacting people in the community, funders, the media, etc. to keep people up-to-date with school grounds development
Videotaping for recording different stages of project development and celebrations and events on the grounds
Artists, Graphic Artists to help with designing flyers, posters and plant tags and painting school grounds signs, murals, paving markings, etc.
Carpenters to help with building planters, seating, animal roosting boxes and feeders, sign posts, etc.
Ceramists to help children make, for example, tiles and mosaics for murals and identification tags for plants
Construction Workers to advise and to help in other ways with all kinds of building projects
Costume-Makers people to help sew costumes for music, drama, dance and games, and make cloth backdrops for outdoor stages
Crafts Weavers, Dyers, Spinners to advise on the kinds of plants that can be grown for making crafts such as plant fibres for weaving, basket-making, dyeing, spinning, paper-making, etc. and to help with class activities
Masons to help the school design and build well and learn about the different techniques used for pathways, retaining walls, steps, etc., and to volunteer with building projects
Meditation, and Tai Chi Teaching for helping to develop quiet spaces - schools that have created green refuges for silence report that it improves the learning ability of children to be taken for a while to a calm place for time out - schools in Britain are using Tai Chi to help reduce stress among students
Musicians, Dancers, Actors to help create outdoor spaces for formal and informal performances
Mural painters to work with children on designing murals to make the outdoor play spaces more colourful and to help with painting murals, pavement markings, etc.
Signmakers for producing commemorative and informational signage
Sculptors to assist with making projects such as sundials, carved totem poles and sculptural bird feeders, seating, pond designs, planters, etc.

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