Washington Elementary Native Garden

Pasadena Audubon Society will unveil a new native plant and pollinator garden at Washington STEM Elementary Magnet (WSEM) on November 16, 2019.

By Taylor Paez

The garden will provide students with outdoor learning opportunities and provide a habitat for native species of birds, bees, butterflies—and more!
Jodie West, a STEM specialist at WSEM, said:
"We’ve been trying to bring an outdoor schoolyard program to fruition for more than eight years and it’s wonderful to see it becoming a reality, with even more opportunities for kids to learn."

PAS took on creating a garden for WSEM as an extension of the Bird Science Program, founded by PAS in Spring of 2018 with the goal of getting students excited about the environment, conservation, and bird watching. A native plant and pollinator garden will bring to life the lessons of the Bird Science Program for the students at WSEM with features intended to recreate local ecosystems.

The garden

The garden features:

California-native plants that attract birds and pollinators.

An outdoor classroom space for exploration.

A rainwater garden with bioswales, which will slow the flow of rain through the space and allow for it to drain naturally into the earth.

During the Planting Day Celebration (from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm), students, teachers and volunteers will be putting the plants in the ground while enjoying refreshments, and celebrating the hard work that PAS, the school community and other community organizations have put into this garden.

Initial funding and volunteers

Many organizations and individual volunteers have been involved, making this garden a community project. Volunteers from Pasadena Audubon, Pasadena Education Foundation, California Native Plant Society—San Gabriel Mountains Chapter, Pasadena Water and Power, LA Works, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, the Pasadena Job Center and other community partners have contributed over 500 hours to the project.

Additionally, Pasadena Water and Power is donating informational signage about garden features, as well as installing new water-smart irrigation. A National Audubon’s Plants for Birds Burke Grant provided initial funding.