Students get hands on with science, building outdoor classroom at Welti Elementary

W.C. Mann

Students construct a gravel pathway through Welti Elementary School’s outdoor classroom.

WELTI – Recently, kids got to take a little break from class, as they went out in shifts to participate in a workday for the construction of Welti Elementary School’s new outdoor classroom.  With the help of North Alabama Agriplex staff and volunteers, students and faculty worked on a songbird sanctuary, pollinator and butterfly gardens, a sensory garden, a weather station, a berry patch and other learning stations.

The outdoor classroom, as stated in a press release provided by Welti School, will provide learning stations “where students can observe, document, and experiment as they study the micro-ecosystems they’ve created.  Students can observe the diversity of selected native plants and the ecological relationship between plants and animals.”

Project consultant Emily Clem talked about Welti’s plans.

“This has been a year-long process.  We were going to do it back in the fall, but, because of the drought, we knew it was not a good time.  We delayed it until spring, then we had to move it.  We’ve got raised beds, and those will be planted with vegetables, possibly some flowers.  Then we’re going to have a sensory garden with things to touch, feel and smell.  Then we’re going to have pollinator and butterfly gardens: three of those, with plants that host the butterfly larvae, and with flowers that the butterflies like for nectaring.  Almost all of them are native plants, because that’s what the native insects and pollinators like.”

Clem pointed out some of the plants that had been brought in for the gardens, including goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, Virginia sweetspire, Carolina Jasmine, pink muhly grass, yaupon holly, beauty berry, blackberries, blueberries, yarrow, passionflower vines, bee balm and coneflower.

Welti Principal Gina Webb spoke about the large number of resources that have come to the school to make the project a reality.  In addition to numerous private donations and grants, the list includes the North Alabama Agriplex, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Whole Foods Market, Greg Nuss Contracting, Louisiana Pacific, Walker Brothers, Alabama Brick and Cullman Savings Bank.

“Everybody’s just been super generous,” Webb remarked, “and we’re really excited.”

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