Lincoln-Way Central uses Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant Award for the classroom
Friday, October 6, 2017

This semester, Lincoln-Way Central teacher Scott McCreary has begun to incorporate the Lincoln-Way Central prairie into his curriculum. The Lincoln-Way Central prairie is home to numerous teaching opportunities in the Science department.

Collaborative teachers Scott McCreary and Luke Bell use the prairie to teach their students about prairie relationships such as, biotic factors, symbiotic relationships like parasitism, commensalism, and mutualism, and other relationships like herbivory and predation. Their collaborative class, Environmental Biology, is the newest class offered in the department this year but the ecology unit is taught in all biology classes at Lincoln-Way District 210.

Last November, Lincoln-Way Central was awarded nearly $1,000 in grant money from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in order to enhance their science curriculum. Teacher Scott McCreary was the one who began the process of obtaining the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant in the fall semester with help from colleague Catherine Sieber.

The grant money was used to purchase species that were planted around the pond behind Lincoln-Way Central. Some of these species included prairie dropseed, chokecherry, sky blue aster, sideoats grama, bottle gentian, and little bluestem, which are all now healthy and flourishing.

Students from Science Club, Environmental Action Club, and other LWC students helped plant these plants in May. Both clubs will work throughout this school year and beyond to maintain the outdoor learning space for the school.

The science department at Lincoln-Way Central began using the Lincoln-Way prairie straightaway after the grant was awarded, and classes like teacher Scott McCreary’s class have been able to go out into the prairie and perform hands-on research and activities.

"The opportunity for science to be hands-on and interactive with nature was the goal for Lincoln-Way Central's Schoolyard Habitat. With the upstart of this new course as well as increased interest in our AP Environmental Science class, our outdoor space is well used," says Dr. Sarah Highfill, Lincoln-Way Central's Science Department Chair.

Students are directed to go out into the prairie during class time, and discover their own examples of unique and interesting aspects of the Lincoln-Way Central prairie.

For the second year in a row, students will submit their best captured moment of ecology for a photo contest and Lincoln-Way Central Science teachers will vote on the best one. The winning pictures have been posted inside the brick pavilion at Lincoln-Way Central.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Jadel Youth Fund, the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, and the Illinois Conservation Foundation are all sponsors of this grant program.