PEMBROKE — Pembroke Middle School, home of the Warriors, is now sharing its campus with wildlife in a habitat built by students that has received national recognition.
The school’s Environment Club’s recent construction of a wildlife garden has earned recognition as a Certified Schoolyard Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation. Pembroke Middle is the first school in Robeson County to earn the recognition and has joined with more than 5,000 schools nationwide that have transformed their schoolyards into thriving habitats that provide essential elements needed by all wildlife.
“No other county school has the distinction of having a protected habitat,” said Jeannie Hardin, a seventh-grade science teacher and a club director.
Certification also makes the student’s habitat part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for insects that spread pollen.
“We are excited to have another school join our growing list of more than 5,000 certified Schoolyard Habitats. Kids can now personally experience nature through hands-on learning in an outdoor environment,” said Liz Soper, director of K-12 Programs for National Wildlife Federation.
The habitat serves as an outdoor education site where students can engage in cross-curricular learning in a hands-on way, which is initially what the club was seeking.
“We had that big empty spot out there, and the kids wanted to start an Environment Club,” Hardin said.
The students painted 14 tires and made them into 14 chairs, creating an outdoor learning space.
In preparing the space for an outdoor classroom, Hardin said club members didn’t realize they were checking off various items on the Schoolyard Habitat list.
The club had to meet a variety of criteria to qualify the area as a protected habitat. Those include providing various food and water sources; a shelter from weather and predators; a place for wildlife to mate, bear and raise their young; and employing various practices to help sustain the habitat.
All of the students in the club are members of the National Wildlife Federation, and after receiving a newsletter, they realized they had only a few items left.
“When that came and they sent it to me, we were only missing two things,” Hardin said.
“We had everything but the bird feeder and a water feature,” said Robert Quintero, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher who is also a director of the club.
After checking off the final items, the habitat was certified.
“Its amazing,” Quintero said. “The kids get to see the work that they’ve done come into fruition. They can see that what I’m doing is making a difference.”
The gardens contain a variety of habitats that cater to native and local plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals and more. Establishing the habitat that attempts to replicate the environment that existed before the school was built allows natural systems to interact and establish an equilibrium.
Keeping the habitat thriving will require an ongoing effort from the club.
“That has to be sustained,” Hardin said. “That’s not something we can put out there and never walk back towards. That’s a maintainable habitat. It makes it more important for the kids to be responsible.”
The Environment Club, which now has 26 members, has undertaken various projects. The most recent was the Kindness Rock Garden. The entire school painted rocks with inspirational messages, and the club molded a concrete heart and placed the rocks inside as a centerpiece for the school.
The club also has donated many hours and supplies to the Robeson County Humane Society and will be choosing three elderly or sick people whose land they will landscape.
A goal for the club is to incorporate a pond with only wildlife that would be found in the Lumber River.
Hardin said that most of the school’s students hunt and fish and know the environment of their home.
“It helps relate back to the area so you help ground the club in what makes Robeson County Robeson County,” Quintero said.
The members of the club are Destiny Adare Hardin, director; Louae Feliciano, president; Riley Miller, vice president; Shacrista Brewington, secretary; Destyni Stanly, treasurer; Conner Chavis; Danni Jones; Jacob Sampson; Jeremiah Locklear; Reanna Oxendine; Brantley Hunt; Caden Wong; Dakota William; Jerric Chavis; Jesha McNeill; Lehnyah Godwin; Bryonna Locklear; Chloe Jacobs; Leah Hardin; Dasani Floyd; Demetrius Green; Harmony Brooks; Julian Evans; Katelyn Brooks; Alanna Britt; Austin Brooks; and Mallory Cummings.
The Environment Club at the Pembroke Middle School recently constructed a Kindness Rock Garden. The club most recently received certification by the National Wildlife Federation after creating a wildlife habitat on campus.
Shown are members of Pembroke Middle School’s Environment Club. They are, from left, Bryonna Locklear, Jeannie Hardin, Leah Hardin, Destiny Hardin, Robert Quintero, Jacob Sampson, Shachrista Brewington and Reanna Oxendine. The group and other members established a wildlife habitat that is certified with the National Wildlife Federation.
The Environment Club at Pembroke Middle School recently recently received certification by the National Wildlife Federation after creating a wildlife garden habitat on campus. The club had to check off a variety of items to qualify for the certification, including providing various food and water sources; a shelter from weather and predators; and a place for wildlife to mate, bear and raise their young.