Restoring Our School Wildlife Refuge and Habitat


In 2012 a patch of land between the C and B buildings went through a marvelous transformation. The area, once home to a group of nonnative trees, was adopted by Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher Denise Powell and turned into a wildlife refuge. Unfortunately in the years since Mrs. Powell has left TO, the habitat has fallen out of shape. The pathways once occupied by students are now filled with weeds, the native plants dried up, and the rock river clogged with trash.

This year Mrs Farrell, the new AP environmental science teacher, and sophomore Marina Zernick plan to restore this space to its former glory. This past Sunday, October 7, was the first official habitat cleanup day of the year. Zernick, along with four other volunteers, focused on weeding and picking up trash. The next step in the ongoing project is getting a new irrigation system.

“The biggest issue that was preventing us from doing any real work in there was the water”  said Farrell “once we can get a watering system in there then the plants will come back”

Once these maintenance jobs are completed and the habitat is cleaned up, Zernick plans on working to make it a place for students to directly learn about the environment. “I’m hoping to make an educational booklet on all the plants and possible lesson plans to help teachers use it and be more involved” Zernick said. These additions would help the habitat fulfil its original intended purpose as an outdoor classroom.  

Beyond the plans she has for the habitat, Zernick has a much broader goal. “I just really hope to spread awareness to more people so they can get involved in helping the environment.” Zernick said “a lot of people don’t even realize the reality of the problems we’re facing.”