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REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

The garden at Esperanza School is part of the Schoolyard Habitat Program (supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Last week I returned to Esperanza School in Los Angles (which I visit every year) to talk with the fourth graders in Mrs. Elizabeth Williams’ natural science class. They meet twice a week, both in the library, where I made my presentation, and in the school’s natural habitat garden. The students love to learn about animals and have been reading my books.

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

With teacher Elizabeth Williams in the school library

As I arrived at the school I was greeted by Principal Brad Rumble, who shared with me some of the many activities going on at the school. He is an enthusiastic bird watcher and passes on his love of birds to the students. In the hallway outside the main office is a bulletin board where students are recording their observations about red-tailed hawks, large birds that they often see soaring over the school playground.

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

Esperanza Elementary School is located at the edge of downtown Los Angeles

Several years ago Brad Rumble initiated the conversion of part of the school’s asphalt playground to a natural habitat garden area for plants native to southern California. I have visited the garden every year and seen the progress from scattered plants surrounded by dirt to a garden bursting with growth. As students visit the garden throughout the year they are learning to identify plants and insects and  observe the differences in growth during each season.

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

Lupins

This was my first visit to the garden in spring. Bright blue lupins were blooming everywhere and hundreds of bees were buzzing around the blossoms collecting nectar and pollen. A few orange California poppies brightened one corner and numerous other spring flowers were also in bloom.

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

Thermometer and Rain Gauge

In one corner, a thermometer showed the temperature to be in the seventies, a warm day for February. Next to it, the rain gauge was empty. Although February is typically the rainiest month of the year, this year there has been almost no rain. A drip system and hose can be used to water the plants during dry periods.
I always enjoy my visits to Esperanza and seeing the evolution of the garden. This year I was delighted to see new garden areas that have been planted in the main courtyard of the school, with trees for shade and other native plants. With each new bit of natural space, the school is becoming a true oasis for wildlife in the heart of the city.

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