Planting the seeds for a brighter future

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John Brown Elementary School student Trinity Swearingen assists her younger peers with planting native plants on the school’s campus Friday. Students at the elementary school were taught how to plant, and planted, 400 native plants during the event.

RATHDRUM - Students at John Brown Elementary School in Rathdrum helped plant more than 400 native plants on their campus last week.

On Friday, Sept. 11, the elementary schoolers assisted in the landscaping makeover that began this summer. Fourth-grade teacher Fonda Stewart told The Press Tuesday that the work is the result of collaboration between students, staff and volunteers.

"Our school has created a native plant and wildlife habitat and we are registered as one with the Native Wildlife Federation," Stewart said. "Through that, the students will learn what our native wildflowers and plants are."

Stewart added that students participated in the endeavor in a variety of ways. Some classes selected the plants and where to plant them. Others helped identify and label the plants themselves.

"You will not see chrysanthemums in our fall garden," Stewart said. "But you will see kinnikinnick, creeping Oregon grape, and syringa. We will have over 35 different native plants represented in our garden all along the front of our school."

The purpose of the project, according to Stewart, is to continue to help instill students at John Brown Elementary School with values and lessons that train them to be caring and responsible citizens.

"The landscaping across the front of our school, along with the beautiful garden across the street, are learning gardens and outdoor classrooms," Stewart said.

Jill and Bob Wilson, from Cedar Mountain Perennials, donated many of the plants and were also on hand to teach the youngsters the benefits of using native plants in landscaping projects.

"They even set out the plants for us in just the right places and taught the students how to plant them," Stewart said.

Stewart added that the school also received donations from Wildlife Habitat Nursery, Plants Gone Wild, and Westwood Nursery and Garden Art.

"The rest of the plants were purchased by our staff," Stewart said. "And our landscaping has been paid for with grants, fundraisers and many donations."

Landscaping efforts on the campus include raised cement beds, a water feature and rock formations.

Julia Spaulding and Olivia Carrel, John Brown Elementary School students, look at rocks with plant names painted on them during a school-wide planting event Friday.


One of the finished landscape projects is seen at John Brown Elementary School in Rathdrum.

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