St. Viator Elementary School recently shared a Facebook post about our new pollinator garden. The majority of the installation is complete, so we can share more details about this beautiful, functional addition to our campus.
St. Viator Dad Jeremy Ohmes secured a "Schoolyard Habitat Grant" through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) back in the spring of 2020.
The original grant was awarded just before the pandemic closures and students switched to remote learning. Mr. Ohmes stayed in touch with the IDNR and after reapplying for the grant for the ‘20–’21 school year, St. Viator successfully secured the grant for this spring. One of the grant stipulations was that students must be involved in the planting and care of the garden. So over the past year and a half, Mr. Ohmes connected with the St. Viator Elementary School Principal, Lisa Rieger, and the dedicated STEM teacher, Mrs. Maria Goslin. Together, they shaped a multi-faceted school project involving multiple grades. Grass was removed, plants were purchased, and the project broke ground this spring.
The grant specified that the funds had to be used for native Illinois pollinator plants. Mr. Ohmes, who also owns a garden design business, researched and purchased a variety of plants to fit those requirements. He chose plants that grow to different heights, bloom during different seasons, and attract a wide variety of pollinators. This biodiversity helps ensure the garden’s success.
Principal Lisa Rieger connected Mr. Ohmes with Mrs. Maria Goslin, our dedicated STEM instructor. Mrs. Goslin supplemented the gardening project with STEM activities. Before the digging started, Fourth Graders did soil analysis, testing the pH levels and basic soil nutrients. Fifth Graders utilized the Jamboard App to create digital garden maps. They created potential garden designs based on plant height, plant width, and sun requirements. On the planting days, Third Graders observed the sun and recorded their shadows in chalk in the schoolyard. Mrs. Goslin helped with the planting as well, demonstrating that STEM work is hands-on work!
Mrs. Goslin helped with the planting as well, demonstrating that STEM work is hands-on work!
Students from the First Grade through Fifth Grade worked in shifts on two different days to complete all of the planting.
They braved cool, drizzle-rain mornings and clear, sunny afternoons. And no worries about a little dirt on their uniforms!
Each shift ended with students watering their planted sections.
The pollinator garden is planted, and Mr. Ohmes continues to add final details. He secured tree stumps to create outdoor seating, encouraging classes to use the pollinator space for outdoor lessons. The classes also painted decorative rocks to form a border around the walking path.
The Mulch Center in Deerfield, Illinois, generously donated mulch to go down around the plants and along the walking path. There is also a garden sign slated for installation in the near future.
The pollinator garden sits on the southeast corner of campus (at Addison and Kedvale). It consists of perennial Illinois native plants that attract butterflies, bees, and other important pollinating insects. If you're near campus, be sure to check out the growth progress of the pollinator garden!
A big "thank you" goes out to Mr. Ohmes for spearheading this project, and Mrs. Goslin for adding some great STEM activities! Thank you also goes out to all the parents, staff, and teachers who helped with the planting and who collected photos over the course of the planting days. We are grateful for the collective community work to add this pollinator garden to the St. Viator Elementary School campus.