When students at two schools in Fox River Grove District 3 came back to school this fall, they were greeted with a beautiful natural landscape that now supports native plants, wildlife, and sustainable habitats.
Both Fox River Grove Middle School and Algonquin Road Elementary School were recently awarded Conservation@School certification by the Barrington Area Conservation Trust for their work with Ringers Landscaping to transform the schools’ outdoor areas into extensions of the classroom that provide educational opportunities about our environment and the world in which we live.
It all started with a master plan to create a beautiful, sustainable landscape that would engage students on a regular basis. The plan included planting 25 species of trees, along with rain gardens, native plants, invasive species removal, organic turf care, and a dedicated gardener to keep everything in shape all year.
Each tree now has its own unique web page, which is accessed by scanning the QR code on the tag. On each page students and visitors can find detailed information and photos on the tree as well as its geolocation.
“The schools now have an ever changing, dynamic landscape that is alive with birds, butterflies, bees, and bugs,” says Brandon Losey of Ringers Landscaping.
Fox River Grove Middle School Principal Eric Runck agrees. “I walk the grounds every day,” he says, “and I see so many more birds and butterflies. I love coming out here now.” As if to prove a point, moments after discussing the life that had returned to the schools’ landscape, a hummingbird entered the rain garden to feed off the vibrant red blooms of a Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower).
BACT Executive Director Lisa Woolford said about the project, “We are proud to be able to award these two Fox River Grove schools with a Conservation@School certification. By working together with the leaders of our communities’ schools, we can further our children’s educations about the importance of being an active participant in the natural world around us.”
Future plans for native landscaping at the schools include a food garden, green roof, woodland garden with paths, and additional rain gardens.