Gainesville High School Native Plant Garden

GHS Teacher Maggie Paxson with her students.

In November 2022, Alachua Audubon was awarded a $2000 grant from the Plants for Birds program funded by Audubon Florida and Florida Power and Light. Native plants are an important source of food, cover and nesting sites for birds and are host plants for the insects that all birds need as a protein source. Native plants evolved in their ecological niches so need little maintenance in the way of water, fertilizer or pesticides once established. The conversion of natural areas in Florida to residential and commercial uses makes it critically important that we foster an environment that supports birds. The Plants for Birds grant was a partnership with Maggie Paxson, Chair of the Science Department at Gainesville High School. The funding supported refurbishing an existing pollinator garden and installation of a new native plant garden outside the science wing of the high school. Students assisted with removing invasive plants and replacing them with natives. Some of the funds from the grant were used to purchase grow lights and seed starters that will be used for a laboratory experience in fall 2023 in Ms. Paxson’s Environmental Management class. The plants that result from this lab will be installed in the garden by the students. In addition to providing nectar, fruit and insects for birds, the ultimate goal of the garden is to increase students’ science engagement through outdoor education and nature journaling. View a short video of the newly planted garden here.

We thank Audubon Florida and Florida Power and Light for their support!