By Grace Ulch
SAUK PRAIRIE, Wisconsin (WKOW) — A group of second graders at Tower Rock Elementary School wanted to create a habitat for the endangered rusty patch bumble bee after learning about it in class.
“Angus introduced them to the rust patch bumble bee and it have them this idea that there was all this grass out here, why don’t we turn the grass into a prairie,” JoAnnah Sorg, a teacher at Tower Rock, said.
“The rust patch bumble bee is a federally endangered species,” Sam, one of the student organizers said. “It’s rare, very uncommon.”
So, students set out to build a prairie on school grounds with the hopes of giving the endangered bee a habitat in their own backyard.
Students came up with a rubric to find the best spot, gave a presentation to the superintendent for his approval and got to planting.
Those students are now in fifth grade and the rusty patch bumble bee has made its way to the Tower Rock prairie.
“We did all this work and then we finally got to experience, or see, what we were hoping to see,” student Jaelyn said.
Despite finally seeing the rusty patch bumble bee, students say their plans for the prairie just keep getting bigger.
“There’s still projects we want to do this year,” Sam said. “Like signs, some of us want to find out how to make a pond and a bench.”
For their latest addition, students at Tower Rock applied for a grant to get some signage at the prairie describing the kinds of flowers and insect species there. They say the want signs in English, Spanish and Braille.
“At our school, we have a lot of diversity,” fellow fifth grader Adaline said. “So we just decided to make it usable for all the people.”
Teachers say it’s been great to watch students identify a problem, work to find the solution and see how their effort impacts the world around them.
“I feel grateful to be working in a community of people, both adults and kids, who want to make a difference like that,” teaching assistant Angus Mossman said. “There are endangered species all over the world that need help. And I think we sometimes forget that there are ones in our own backyard that we can actually do things about.”
Over the past few years, students have learned that there are few things you can’t do with good teammates and hard work. Teachers call the prairie the school’s “living project” knowing that students will add to it and learn from it for years to come.
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