School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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Identifying needs

Hold a brainstorming session to assess what skills and expertise are required for every aspect of the planning, implementation, use and maintenance of your school grounds projects.

Some skills and areas of expertise needed for grounds projects such as landscape design, tree planting and gardening are assumed whereas others are less obvious but equally important. See the Sample Skills Identification survey for a partial list of useful skills.

Designing the survey

Students can design a Skills Identification survey for every child in the school to take home to interview the adults in their household. This survey helps to uncover the school community's collective abilities and shows people how they can contribute towards improving the school grounds.

The survey should include a list of the skills that might be needed for grounds projects. Students can check off the number of skills identified by the family members and bring the results back to school. A list of materials, tools and equipment that parents may be able to supply can also be included in the survey.

Some of the skills useful to school grounds transformation projects and activities are:

  • carpentry
  • designing
  • biology
  • gardening
  • masonry
  • botany
  • painting
  • ceramic work
  • mural-making
  • soil/water analyzing
  • ecology
  • conservation
  • field naturalist work
  • horticulture
  • entomology
  • composting
  • weeding, watering, harvesting crops
  • music, dance and drama
  • research
  • data banking
  • permaculture design
  • computer programming
  • landscape architecture
  • bird-watching
  • organic growing
  • fundraising
  • nature study
  • celebrations/events
  • native studies
  • natural food cooking
  • building
  • sculpture and art
  • costume-making
  • parks planning
  • accounting
  • surveying
  • health and safety
  • meditation
  • herbal medicine
  • outdoor education
  • farming
  • forestry
  • communicating
  • journalism
  • writing
  • sign-making
  • presenting
  • filming
  • photography
  • weaving
  • various crafts
  • geography
  • science
  • public relations

Creating a database

Students can create a school skills database and enter the responses as the surveys results are returned.

The database can be updated annually by repeating the survey. The survey could also be included as part of the enrollment procedure for new students. Schools should make sure that the skills of families of graduating students are deleted from the database.

The results of this survey can be used to target people with the skills needed for specific tasks.


People are often willing to help with greening projects, but they are more likely to help if you can tell them exactly what you would like them to do. They also like to know well in advance when and where you would like the job done, how long it is expected to take and who they will be working with.

Avoid making a general call for help for a particular planting or building activity. You may have chaos on your hands if many people respond - or else a non-event if no one shows up! Targeting people to carry out specific tasks in a well-organized way will help you orchestrate projects more efficiently and effectively. The volunteers will also be happier and more likely to turn up for subsequent greening events.

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