The Beautification and Gardening committee works with the school staff and administration, along with the school district, to improve the campus setting, as well as create and maintain educational resources set in outdoor settings. These include the Chesak/Martin Butterfly Garden and the Chesak Vegetable Garden. Nearly all of the Reed Road Campus trees and all of the landscaping have been supported with help by the committee and by fundraising with 
the Annual Flower sale.

The Chesak/Martin PTA and Beautification committee takes pride in improving the look of our campuses. Please visit the gardens often to see how they transform throughout the year.  The gardens belong for all to enjoy, learn from and share. The Chesak vegetable garden provided over 1000 pounds of produce during the 2013 growing season to the Grafton Food Pantry!

Read an article featuring our gardens here.

Butterfly Garden

Our Butterfly Garden is recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and serves as a Monarch Way Station recognized by the University of Kansas. The garden meets all criteria of providing food, shelter, water and a place for wildlife to reproduce.  The gardens contain dozens of natural plants and wildflowers.  It serves the students in the district and is easily accessible to the public located off the main parking lot between Chesak and Martin schools.  Volunteers can help with general maintenance around the planting beds. The garden beds are mostly self sustaining.

Did You Know? To become a recognized wildlife area by the National Wildlife Federation you must meet 4 criteria, a place for food, water, shelter and a place to raise wild life young.

Butterfly Garden Fun Facts:
►The Chesak/Martin Butterfly Garden originated at the old North School off Route 47.

►The beds are shaped like that of a butterfly’s wings.

►We have about 30 species of plants and grasses in the garden.

►To be certified as a Monarch Way Station you must have at least two species

of Milkweed for reproduction of caterpillars and a variety of nectar plants. We currently have two types of milkweed with a third to be seeded this fall.

►Butterflies need places to rest and obtain water.  We have large stones, two butterfly houses and a water bath.

►The most common butterflies observed in our garden have been Monarch, Painted Lady and both the yellow and black swallowtail butterfly.

►Other insects that can be found in our garden include Praying mantis, bees, dragon flies, species of hunting wasps, lady bugs, Japanese beetles (a pest and non native) and yes, mosquitoes.

►We have at least one family of field mice living in the garden and have seen toads and frogs in the past.  The mice help improve the soil through their burrowing; toads and frogs help control insects.  Despite their presence, the mice family finds more than enough food in the garden and their population is control by wondering hunters like owls, hawks and snakes.

►Migratory birds visit the garden especially in the fall for a food source and help spread the seeds.

Benefits of an On-Campus Garden

Settings with trees and shrubs have shown to improve learning and education.  Many studies support the notion that such environments have added benefit to learning, student participation, retention and attention span and improved testing scores.  

An outdoor classroom relates to the environment, but it is also an interactive opportunity for students and adults to learn how math, literature, history, art, and music are influenced by nature and our natural resources.

from "Outdoor Classrooms..." Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Studies at the University of Illinois show that time in natural settings significantly reduces symptoms of attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder in children as young as age five. The research also shows the experience helps reduce negative stress and protects psychological well being, especially in children undergoing the most stressful life events.

from "Leave No Child Inside" Orion Magazine March/April 2007 read full article here

According to a range of studies, children in outdoor-education settings show increases in self-esteem, problem solving, and motivation to learn. “Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imaginations,” says Robin Moore, an international authority on the design of environments for children’s play, learning, and education, “and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity.”

from "Leave No Child Inside" San Diego Earth Times April 2007 read full article here

One study in 2005 found that students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27 percent.
from "Children & Nature Network:  What the Research Shows" read full article here

The State Education and Environment Roundtable, consisting of 12 states’ education agencies, sought to identify successful environment based educational programs and conduct evaluations in various domains.

The 40 successful programs that use the EIC (Environment as an Integrative Context) design share the basic educational strategies of a multidisciplinary approach, hands-on learning experience, problem solving, team teaching, individualized design, and an emphasis on developing knowledge, understanding and appreciation for the environment. The documented impacts of the programs were found to be:

Better performance on standardized achievement tests of reading, writing, math, social studies and science;
Reduced classroom management and discipline problems;
Increased attention and enthusiasm for learning; and greater pride and ownership of accomplishments.

from "Garden-Based Learning in Basic Education: A Historical Review" University of California. read full article here

Flower Sale

Our annual flower sale was a big success!  The CMPTA 
Beautification committee usesthe profits from the flower sale to buy trees and

bushes for both school campuses. The Annual 
Flower Sale was started as a means to fund beautification projects and to improve the campus setting.  Proceeds from past flower sales have provided funds to plants dozens of trees and 
shrubs to date. Flower Sale information

Vegetable Garden

The Chesak Vegetable Garden was started in the fall of 2009. It serves as an educational resource for students.  In 2011, the PTA helped support the garden through some of its flower sale funds and 
through care taking duties. Volunteers are greatly appreciated and will get to share in the vegetables harvested for donating their time. If you are interested in helping over the summer, let us know!

Garden Resources
Our Goals:

The committee would like to build a 1-2 acre natural prairie on the campus with district approval to serve as a larger “outdoor classroom”.  Such a living environment would provide numerous educational opportunities for students on campus and in the entire district (Pre-K - high school).  Natural areas cost 
hundreds of dollars less per year less to 
maintain then “turf grass” over the long term after installation and plants are established. Currently, the committee has $1000 donated to such a project.  Anyone interested in working on this project to make it a reality can contact us.

Prairie/Wildflower Facts

►Prairie is from the French word of the same origin meaning meadow or grassland.

►Prairies covered 40% of the US at one time. Less than 1/10 of 1% exists today.

►Prairies covered large portions of the US, parts of Mexico and Canada.

►Established natural areas can percolate several inches of rainwater per hour.  Grass grown in the same location reaches saturation after about 1 inch or less depending on the soil.

►Big Blue stem grass in the garden can reach 6-8 feet in height.  Settlers when they saw it said it reminded them of waves on the ocean when the grass blew and swayed inthe wind.

►Prairie plants and wildflowers depend on insects, wildlife and underground roots to spread.

Prairies (or natural areas) produce roots, which go 
down several feet.  The compass plant has a taproot 
that can reach more than 8 feet. (See comparison 
above) image courtesy of Prairie Nursery

►The single largest agricultural crop in the U.S. is “lawn grass”. Prairies require almost 1/10 of the maintenance cost as a lawn.  It can cost $1500 to $4000 per acre to cut and maintain a lawn every year while a natural area cost about $600 once established in 3-4 years (based on a 2003 study).

►Indians used the Prairie Dropseed grass seeds to make a type of bread flour.

►Contrary to some belief, native prairie plants and wild flowers do not aggravate allergies.  Invasive grasses, plants and weeds brought to the US aggravate mostallergies.

►Except for an a few field mice, natural areas like prairies do no support vermin (rats, etc.)  In fact, most common predators (hawks, owls, snakes, etc.) control the populations of rodents

Using Gardens to Teach

High retention rate - When children work in gardens 90 percent of their experience is classified as hands-on. In a study conducted by Bethel Learning Institute on student retention, it was found that learning by doing produced 75 percent retention rate and 90 percent retention rate if the student teaches another student as averse to 11 percent for lectures.

Empowerment - A connection to the earth gives students a sense of achievement and motivation.

Academics - Science, math, social studies, art, language, and any other subject can be taught as life skills using nature as the learning lab, making these concepts more meaningful.

Teamwork - Facilitating cooperation and communication in a real world setting rather than a classroom, makes learning teamwork possible, as does the class goal of a successful garden become more significant than individual achievement.

from "The Whys of Outdoor Classrooms" by Priscilla Logan read full article here