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Same-Day Service for Lifelong Learning

May 9, 2013

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Sarah Geer is Director of Foundation and Individual Relations, REAL School Gardens

On April 27, more than 100 FedEx volunteers completed a very special same-day delivery: they created a sustainable learning garden in the span of one day. For the 612 students at Dr. Barbara Jordan Elementary in Dallas, this garden will help them connect with their lessons – and the environment – in a new and meaningful way.

FedEx volunteers applied their expertise in efficiency to make quick work of numerous projects, including: tilling the ground, depositing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil in garden beds, erecting a grape arbor, installing a 200-gallon rain barrel and planting 6 trees and 150 square feet of perennial bed space with diverse native and well-adapted plant species.

During the opening ceremony, Dallas Independent School District trustee Carla Ranger reminded us of the esteemed Dr. Barbara Jordan’s own words:

The world is not a playground but a schoolroom.

These words ring so true for a project supported by the FedEx EarthSmart initiative which encourages environmental responsibility for the Earth’s benefit but also for the benefit of all of us. In school gardens, the natural environment becomes a learning environment, providing all the more reason to practice environmental stewardship. Harvesting more than 1,000 gallons of rainwater annually is a great environmental benefit, but the impact of the newly installed rain barrel is magnified further by the learning opportunities it presents: students will gain a deeper understanding of the water cycle and simple engineering principles by observing the rainwater catchment system at work. In the same way, establishing more than 100 square feet of nectar-producing plants provides important ecological benefits by providing habitat for monarch butterflies, and these benefits are multiplied when students take to the field to study this phenomenon. Not only do students explore the science of food chains and insect life cycles but they develop critical skills in data collection and analysis as they track and chart the number of butterflies that stop at this garden way station on their annual migration.

While the “dirt work” for this project was complete by the end of the day, the work of cultivating the next generation of scholars, problem-solvers and environmental stewards has only just begun. To smooth the transition from dirt work to schoolwork, REAL School Gardens will provide the teachers at Dr. Barbara Jordan Elementary with three years of training to equip them to use the garden effectively as an outdoor classroom. Through this program, we ensure that the immense labor that went into creating this beautiful garden will continue to bear fruit for many seasons to come.

You can follow along with the progress of the “Big Dig” at Dr. Barbara Jordan Elementary in this video, and remember that installing the garden is just the beginning…

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