Opportunity to pitch in teaching about environment

Invasive purple loosestrife has been growing near our garden at Myers Middle School since at least 2017. It’s been outcompeting native wetland plants, like cattails, in the Northeast for at least a couple of decades and is believed to have reached North America from its home in Central Europe as long ago as the early 1800s. So, we have been thinking about how to leverage trying to remove the plant for educational gain for quite a few years.

The Vegetable Project builds teaching and learning around doing and touching and tasting and experiencing because we know that all of that makes a much greater impression than teachers standing in front of a classroom ever can. And seeking to manage an attractive but unfortunately harmful plant in our midst seemed to offer an excellent opportunity.

Purple loosestrife, however, is easiest to identify when it’s in bloom, in August, when few students are around the school. But we were offered time this summer during the school’s Transition Camp for incoming sixth graders to put something together. And we came up with what we’re calling an Invasive Species Workshop, to be held next week, on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 23 and 24, involving identifying, mapping and removing the plant. We hope, really expect, to pique interest in the environment and raise awareness of our role in caring for it.

Want to get involved? The more team members we have talking with kids about what invasives are – nonnative plants or animals that disrupt functioning ecosystems – and why we should be concerned about them the better (and we’ll make sure you’re well prepared to have those conversations). Please reach out at [email protected] or 518-728-6799.

–Bill Stoneman

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