Columbus Audubon presented its Junior Conservation Award to the students of Livingston Elementary School for their significant contributions to conservation. We recognize their efforts to study and learn about conservation and for putting what they learn into action. The students of Livingston Elementary School have been partners in conservation with the Grange Insurance Audubon Center since 2006. Livingston was GIAC’s first school partnership and its value has been immeasurable.
Livingston students, teachers, and administrators helped define the partnership GIAC now has with 12 schools within the Columbus City School District.
- Because of their willingness to test GIAC’s programs even before there was a physical center and on a site that was still a brownfield, the Conservation Classroom Program was fully developed and ready for roll-out when the Center opened in 2009.
- Livingston served as both a model and an advocate in encouraging new Columbus City Schools to participate in Conservation Classroom.
- The Conservation Classroom model of blending environmental education, STEM studies, and conservation action is now the standard for Audubon Centers nationwide.
- Livingston students have made impact through real, on-the-ground conservation. Some of their work includes:
- Wetland Development. Livingston students helped to create two wetland areas during the early stages of remediation by planting native trees, aquatic grasses, and flowering plants and bushes.
- Students identified and removed Japanese honeysuckle and garlic mustard, significantly reducing the populations of these invasives within the Scioto-Audubon Metro Park.
- Students also planted trees, native grasses, groundcover, and flowering plants in “Area 51,” a location targeted to demonstrate conservation impact.
- Livingston students worked within scientific protocol, participating in point counts, and recording of data during spring and fall migration to help establish baseline data and then annual measurements in the following years. The protocol included identification of species’ preferences and habitat use of both migratory and non-migratory birds.
- Finally, students took what they learned in Conservation Classroom and returned to school with ideas for conservation projects in the school, on school grounds, and beyond to the neighborhood. Although implementation of their ideas, within the school district’s real constraints of grounds maintenance and janitorial staff as well as rules and guidelines, has been challenging, the students, teachers, and administrators are committed to refining their concepts of school-wide recycling, community neighborhood gardens, and other conservation activities to make Livingston Elementary School the District’s model of “green.”