The Chester High School garden habitat has been named a Certified Wildlife Habitat, an oasis on school grounds that supports birds, butterflies, bees, frogs and other local wildlife.
Under the coordination of CHS teacher Michelle Justinen, the garden now features native plant species that attract birds, frogs and butterflies, "especially the Monarch butterfly," Justinen added.
Chester's garden habitat has also been co-certified with the National Wildlife Federation's Illinois affiliate, the Prairie Rivers Network.
The national Garden for Wildlife program encourages people to restore a wildlife habitat anywhere -- in backyards, school grounds, businesses, parks and nearly anywhere. Every certified wildlife habitat provides natural sources of food, water, cover and protected places to raise young, and is maintained in a sustainable way that incorporates native plants, conserves water and doesn't rely on pesticides.
"My students and I enjoy watching wildlife and wanted to do our part to help," said Justinen, an English teacher at the high school. She said the garden is inviting to local wildlife, and offers wildlife-watching opportunities.
"It gives the students the opportunity to develop skills, and it helps the school be greener by reducing the (size of) the lawn to be mowed," she added. "It also allows us to enjoy time outside."
To learn more about the Garden for Wildlife movement, visit https://www.nfw.org/garden, or call (800) 822-9919.