Fourth Graders Fight for Pollinators from the School Yard to the Statehouse
What began as a science lesson on native plants and pollinators and their importance to our lives and region quickly expanded as Birchwood’s fourth graders became captivated by the issue. They learned that according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), pollinators critical to our food supply like bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, and beetles are declining due to habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants. They also learned that the benefits of native plants expand beyond providing habitat for critical pollinators but also help our region hold up better to extreme weather events such as flooding, drought, heat, and cold.
Compelled to turn their learning into action, the class is planting a garden of local plants this spring at their school, located at W.140th Street and Puritas Avenue. But, recognizing that the problem has much wider implications and showing wisdom beyond their years, these students did not stop there. They learned of groups advocating for naming the month of April “Ohio Native Plant Month.” In support of OH-HB59, the students submitted video testimony to state legislators (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9VbMXw6pUw&t=9s). On May 2nd the class was in attendance to present their testimony at House and Senate committee hearings. Their dedication to the issue paid off as they witnessed the bill’s passage.
These students envision Ohio Native Plant Month as an opportunity to educate people about native plants and pollinators in many ways. In their testimony, they suggest creating videos, holding fundraisers, and a poster campaign. They also hope to encourage other schools to plant pollinator gardens on their grounds and use them as teaching tools across many academic subjects.
Birchwood is proud of its students’ advocacy and sees a bright future for our region as students step up to make lasting change in our community.