Native Plant Restoration Project
Lesson Plan by Tania Kim
Location: Any area where exotics are taking over. If in a reserve or park, contact manager/ranger for assistance and advice. In any location contact the local chapter of the Native Plant Society for assistance. This was planned with the terrestrial portion of the Scripps Coastal Reserve, in San Diego.
Duration: You will need one day in class to introduce the community to the students, the difference between natives and exotics and go over the basic field procedures. At this time you can assign your students to groups of three, as there will be three tasks-digger, planter/map maker and waterer. Students will rotate through the tasks. If you are having a guest speaker this class period might be a good time to invite them to class.
In the field (one day)-
Grade Level: 7-12, very adaptable
Intellectual: Students will learn to distinguish between exotic and native plant species. Additionally students will work in groups in the field to restore a natural habitat and learn to appreciate the natural resources in their own backyard.
Social: Team building will be achieved by students working in groups as well as a whole class and see the difference they can make together. Student interactions with other students as well as with the teacher, and if a reserve manager is involved with her as well, will be different in nature than in the classroom, will foster more interpersonal interactions which will contribute to better in-classroom environment.
Personal: Individual students will have the chance to explore the natural world and they will come up with their own questions, and their curiosity will act as a motivator.
Contact the reserve manager, or park ranger. Ask when is a good time to have your group out to plant. Ask them well in advance what plant species they think might be best-or if you already have seedlings check that they are appropriate for the area. Additionally, inquire about where in the park or reserve is the best site for the project-in terms of the best area for the plants as well as student management and supervision. Don't for get to ask about a water source, you may need to bring in water in containers. Maps of the park or reserve on which the students will be recording their data.
Coastal Sage Scrub is a community that is becoming more and more patchy due to rapid urbanization in San Diego County. The patches that remain are in many cases also infested with exotic plant species, especially wild oats, Avena sp. The terrestrial portion of the UC Scripps Coastal Reserve, known as the knoll, is a wonderful little Coastal Sage Scrub patch that offers a biodiversity trail. Unfortunately, the native species of CSS (Coastal Sage Scrub community) are competing with a number of exotic plant species, most notably Avena sp. and Brassica nigra, Black Mustard. The species that should dominate this CSS patch are California Sage, Artemisia californica; Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum; Coast Sunflower, Encelia californica, Bladderpod, Cleome isomeris; Lemonadeberry, Rhus integrifolia; Lady fingers, Dudleya edulis; Chalk live-forever, Dudleya pulverulenta; and several species of cacti. The restoration of California Sage is a project already in-progress at the Knoll. The seeds have been collected and there are several seedlings ready to be transplanted (contact Isabelle Kay at UCSD's NRS office). Alternately, the Native Plant Society may have seeds or seedlings available. In some cases local businesses are willing to offer discounts or free products/assistance to school projects. You can always have the students collect seeds, but this would require an additional outing to the field. A native plants garden in your school could provide seeds for year to come and may be considered a community-service project if seedlings are used for restoration.
It is important to recruit as much help as possible, in terms of management of the project as well as teacher education. If you do not know much about plants simply go to the biodiversity trail at the Scripps Coastal Reserve and take a pamphlet, or to any park or reserve. They tend to have informational labels or pamphlets. There may be docents, rangers or managers that you could work with in developing a lesson, they may be able to meet with your students in the field or even come to your classroom.
Before the field: Give the students background on the area you will be working in as well as the species common to the area. A great way to do this is to have a slide show and bring in plant cuttings or herbarium cards if available. Tell the students what the roles are: A digger-this student will dig a hole large and deep enough for the
This list is only for the actual restoration outing-separate lists are included with the extension ideas if necessary.
You will need enough water to irrigate all the seedlings-have a central water station (Where there is a hose if at a park) Students will rotate tasks-one of which will be the water gatherer.
Several are mentioned above, in addition: