FULTON, Texas — Getting out of the classroom and going on field trips for some hands-on experience is a thrill for young students, but what if they could get the field trip experience right on their own campus?
Martha McLeod has made this a reality for her third through fifth graders at Fulton Learning Center. Her students aren’t just reading about science in nature, they watch it happen in their school’s backyard.
They learned about scientific data and research by catching and tagging monarch butterflies in their garden.
McLeod teaches them about invasive species like weeds by having them pick them from their garden and putting them to good use as food for their chickens.
“When you actually have a model, a real-life model, that is actually growing right in front of you it just makes it so much easier,” says Raegan Johnson, a fifth-grader at the school.
So how has the school been able to fund the garden and its animals? “I’m proud to say most everything in the school was funded by the children with the aluminum can recycling. To me, it’s like turning trash in to treasure,” says Mrs. McLeod.
The children compete to see how many aluminum cans they can collect which they turn in for money. The money they earn is directly invested back in to supplies, food, and new animals for their gardens. McLeod says she came up with the idea because she and her siblings paid for their childhood pets with money from recycling cans.
McLeod has been teaching at Fulton since 2002 and has slowly been able to see the gardens flourish with these funds and a few other grants. She has been recognized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for her work.
She says the main goal behind it all is bringing lessons to life and putting some heart behind their studies.