I'm going to the Board Metting.........

FlowergirlDeb2August 28, 2002

First of all, I have SOME time before this meeting is scheduled, but I'm already a nervous wreck!!:)

At my son's elementary school the landscaping has always been, well, yucky. I notice these things because I am a gardener, and a butterfly freak, so I pay attention to plants, flowers, etc.

ANYWAY, the school is in the process of completing a BIG remodeling job that has lasted almost a year. I have an idea that I found out today at registration has to go through the Board, not the PTA. I want to start a butterfly garden/habitat on the grounds, planting native prairie weeds and plants, and of course adding some perrinals and annuals too. I have some information about nature habitats and butterfly gardens from organizations that support this type of thing. However, I'm completely new at actually PRESENTING my ideas to people, and how to go about getting other parents to support me! Any suggestions would be grately appreciated, and ANY links to school yard habitats and butterfly gardening at schools too! :) Thanks everyone!

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As a school board member myself, I see one way to really sell this to your school board. Approach a teacher who would like to work this into a science project for her grade, grade level, or several grades. Work up cost, plan, plant, compost, equipment and water needs. Who will work with you on your plans from the grounds department? What heavy work can be donated like a backhoe, etc? How will this be an ongoing educational project? How will students learn by doing? This must be sold to the teachers first or you are wasting your time. In these financially difficult times, it should be cost neutral to the district and school. Above all, it should tie in with the curriculum. Until you have all this lined up, you are not ready to apoproach the school board. Check out the gardening links at this site.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2002 at 2:19AM
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The first questions they are going to ask are 1)how much and 2)where are you getting the funds. So try to have those answers lined up. We did something similar in my old town, we had grants, a committment from the PTA, and the village council kicked in some funds and a lot of in-kind donations (like their leftover mulch, soil, and their public works employess put in a few hours labor). That means presenting your idea to a lot more meetings: PTA board, council, and researching and writing a grant proposal. We also had a landscape architect in town who donated his time to help lay it out as well as some of the plants.

Try to get a team of people to help you, maybe a teacher, another parent, some kind of landscaper. Their expertise and access to resources combined with your own knowledge and enthusiasm will help sell the idea and make it happen.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2002 at 3:00PM
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The alumni association of our local school did a section of landscaping of sidewalks, benches, plants, trees, and grasses. They hired a local contractor.
The idea of some class project seems like it would be great. The kids could learn and take pride in their endeavors.
I am impressed in your interests and I hope you success in getting this set up.
The previous posters have given good advice.
If you can get more parents involved, this would be of great value of getting it set up and carried out.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2002 at 10:32PM
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Thanks so much guys! Shelia and Stephanie, if you wouldn't have shared with me I would certainly be going in empty handed and unprepared! I'm so glad I posted!! All I have is the enthusiasm and will do do all I can to make it work! I never thought of everything else you mentioned! So, here's my idea based on your responses so far......
I will type up a letter, and meet with the principal and ask if one could be given to each of the teachers. After that, we schedule a meeting of interested teachers, and then I find out how to go about getting other parents involved, sound good so far??
Local businesses are usually pretty good about donating things for the community schools, right? I would think so, HOPE SO!
There's one thing that I am wondering about though. One of the major things this plan of mine includes is planting native prairie plants in the school yard. That means that this fall I would need to plant the seeds in order for them to begin to grow next spring. Is this unrealistic? Anything else I need to know would be so appreciated too! THANK YOU MUCH!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2002 at 11:58PM
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When I started a grassroots movement to build a community built playground all I had was the enthusiasm. But lots of it! I had absolutely no experience, no knowledge, and not a lot of support. But there were many people who thought I could never do it. But I kept going, kept learning, building support, never stopped. It took me WAY out of my comfort zone. I spoke to EVERY group in town, the village council and county commissioner recognized the sound of my voice. It was like a political compaign. Two years later, we, the committee of people who dedicated themselves as much as I did, had raised over $250,000, organized 3000 volunteers, fed those volunteers 14 meals over 7 days ... then we sat in our 20,000 sq.ft. playground and watched our kids play (and cried a little). Let's just say they never doubted me again! Anything is possible with enthusiasm!

However, when I started I did set an unrealistic goal in regards to time. A person I respected suggested I spread out the time line and slow down. It's better to take your time and plan, build support, get your ducks in a row.

So my other to points of advice are
1) Get in good with the school principal, maybe he/she can recommend a couple teachers to help you. If the principal asks the teachers you might get a better response, and more committment in the long.

2) It's not a bad thing if the plants don't go in this year. This can be your planning year. So maybe you make it a reality next fall, then you'll have all the kinks worked out, won't be putting pressure on the school to add one more project to their list. If you approach a business for a donation, it's in your favor if they have several months to make the donation when it fits into their budget. A business who donates now might also donate next year, you'd get more stuff. Or a business who can't afford to donate right now, might be able to if the they plan for it in a few months. Many businesses' end/start their fiscal years in October, so it's a good time to solicit donations as they are making budgets. I can think of dozens of reasons to give yourself this year to plan, with the goal of planting next year.

I know you're excited now and that makes us like kids, we want it NOW! Believe me, I've been there, I'm the same way. So take it from me, slow down, make yourself a good timeline, with the help of other volunteers you enlist. It's better to make sure it happens right even if it takes longer than you dreamed.

I would really love to see you make your dream a reality for the children. So if I can answer any questions or give moral support, you can always email me. I don't know a thing about the gardening side of it, but I can help with selling the idea!


    Bookmark   August 30, 2002 at 10:32AM
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Wow!!!!!!!Great job Stephanie....

    Bookmark   August 30, 2002 at 9:39PM
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Stephanie, you are truly wonderful!! YES, I will be e-mailing you, I am planning on waiting until next week to approach the principal because the first day of school is tomorrow!! LOOK for my messages in your mail box, and congradulations on your playground!:) That must have been one awesome feeling!! THANK YOU!!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2002 at 12:45AM
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