Helping ninjas help pollinators 2018
Helping Ninjas and College Wood Elementary Green Team
Helping Ninja students came together on Memorial Day Weekend, spending the holiday removing non-native invasive plants in three large areas of Founder's Park in Carmel. Once cleared, the soil in these areas was improved and the areas were planted with native Indiana plants that encourage butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to thrive there. The group also learned and taught other students about the importance and benefits of pollinators.
The Helping Ninjas are a group of College Wood Elementary School students whose goal is to be "highly skilled at helping." Any act of kindness or care towards others or our planet is considered helping. No act of help is too small. To start their project, the group met to plan out exactly how they could help Founders Park and pollinators.
Students planted over 100 seeds which would be transplanted into the soil at Founders Park to encourage bees, butterflies and other pollinators to thrive in Indiana. Virtually all of the world’s seed plants need to be pollinated, including LOTS of plants that people eat. We need bats, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to grow much of our food. Over the past several years, pollinator numbers have decreased, so helping them survive helps everyone!
The Helping Ninjas were very thankful for the expert help from Carmel Clay Schools' Cafeteria manager Susan McCord, who works tirelessly to help students connect with nature, learn about gardening, and eat nutritious food. Students participating in the Extended School Enrichment camp were happy to learn about what the kids were doing and help with the project!
Here is a BEFORE photo of the area in Founders Park which the students transformed. The 300 square feet area had been overridden by invasive species. It was ugly and not helpful to pollinators.
The students went to Cool Creek Park in Carmel to learn about pollinators, their impact on the world, and how the Ninjas could provide the most impact with their project.
The next step in the process included removing all of the invasive plants which choke out helpful plants. They next added healthy, organic compost to the soil. This process is called enriching the soil, and is necessary to help prevent the invasive plants from returning and ensure that the new plants grow up healthy.
The Helping Ninjas were happy to get dirty in the name of helping the planet. There are many ways gardening supports good health by providing gentle exercise, allowing for vitamin D absorption, and releasing stress. It turns out that some of the most powerful health benefits of gardening may come from our contact with the soil itself.
The Helping Ninjas removed rocks and unwanted growth, then made the remaining soil more healthy by adding compost and manure. Students then planted a variety of perennial native Indiana plants and flowers to encourage pollinators and promote water conservation and a sustainable environment.
There were many steps in restoring this area of Founders Park, and the students learned about pollinators, invasive plants, soil health, and more. The most important thing they learned was how to work together to make the world a better place. To learn more about the Helping Ninjas, click here.
The Helping Ninja students commented, “ We created awareness about pollinators at our school (College Wood Elementary), the CWE Student Green Team Club, other CCS Green Team Clubs, for CWE students, teachers and parents, and our project will help our Earth and our community.”