In 2017, students in the Environmental Action Group club dreamed up a bold idea: to purchase and plant 500 native-species perennials on Foote's campus—enough for every student in the school to plant one.
The idea was as inspired as it was ambitious, but the students lacked the necessary funds (around $4,000). So they set about saving. Over the next two years, they saved the proceeds from sales of reusable water bottles, concessions sold at environment-themed movie events, and other fundraisers until they had half of the necessary amount. With matching funds generously donated by the Foote PTC this year, the students finally had enough to purchase the plants and undertake their planting project.
But before they could plant, they had to plan. Students in EAG researched plant species that are bird- and pollinator-friendly, took soil samples to be tested at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, identified suitable locations on campus for each species, and created a schedule for planting—no easy task when you're coordinating 475 students and their teachers!
Last week, under the guidance of faculty advisors John Cunningham,Kim Birge-Liberman and Kelly Small, students began planting the native species in buddy pairs: Kindergartners with ninth graders, first and seventh graders, etc. The students are planting all over campus—from the Sacred Woods to the athletic fields and new mud kitchen—often in holes that were painstaking pre-dug by the faculty advisors.
Look around next time you're on campus, and see if you can spot the allium, echinacea, lemon-drop azalea, sugar and red maples, blue flag iris, witch hazel, spice bush, marsh marigold, bleeding heart and dozens of other native species now beautifying school grounds.
The effort was undertaken in honor of Earth Day, on April 22, and photos from the activity will be shown in a slideshow at the all-school Earth Day Assembly.