"Did you know that pelicans make big nests in big trees," he asked,
pointing to a papier-mache pelican on the other side of the glass.
The wetlands project, which included lessons in science, social
studies and English, was funded by a service learning grant from the
California Beginning Teachers Support Access program.
"Service learning is designed to build advocacy in children," said
Nancy Schager, a teacher for nearly 39 years. "But it also helps support
Schager and the four first-year teachers who worked on the project
chose to focus on the Bolsa Chica wetlands.
"People have fought for it for years," explained Schager. "We wanted
our students to have a love for it."
After the classes studied and visited the Bola Chica wetlands,
teachers and students brainstormed together on how they could share their
knowledge with others.
"They couldn't take all of their friends to the wetlands," quipped
So, instead, they took an aging atrium and created their own wetlands.
The classes each chose a bird native to the wetlands and embarked on a
study of the habits of that particular bird. Heards Gardening donated the
landscaping and Home Depot provided the paint for the small pond. Before
the wetland was officially opened for tours, each class contributed its
After completing a tour, the student tour guides gave their visitor a
"I hope the people I showed it to learn that by putting pollution into
the water and making houses on the wetlands [we] leave the birds without
homes," said Kassie Pinegar, 6.
"My favorite part is the waterfall and the birds," said Kellie
Some of the students have walked away from the project with very high
"I hope people help them and save them forever and ever," said
7-year-old Joey Blood.