Students in Mrs. Ixpata’s fourth grade class at Clifford Johnson Elementary School in Warrenville wound up the school year by planting a bur oak at Summerlakes Park as part of The Conservation Foundation’s Mighty Acorns® program. The Foundation partnered with the Warrenville Park District to recognize the occasion with a Conservation@Work certification for Summerlakes Park.
The park district removed invasive plant species from the park and replaced them with native plants, with the assistance of the Johnson Elementary students under the guidance of Recreation Supervisor/Parks Technician Adam Dagley.
Mrs. Ixpata’s classes have participated in Mighty Acorns® since 2007, incorporating a stewardship-based environmental education curriculum with activities outdoors. She has found that nature is a great equalizer for the students in her class; when they get out into the natural area, it doesn’t matter who is good at reading, who struggles with math, or who is in a wheelchair. They can all make discoveries and engage their brains and senses differently than it’s possible to do in the classroom with a textbook. Her students have helped restore what was a degraded natural area, and she sees them taking a lot of pride in that, pointing out frogs and butterflies to other students at recess, and their families on weekends to show them what they and their classmates have done in what they call “their prairie”.
“Mighty Acorns® is like a field trip that comes right to our classroom door three times a year, and I think it’s actually more impactful and relatable for my students since it is happening right in their community,” says Mrs. Ixpata. “When I ask my students each May what their favorite part of the school year was, it’s Mighty Acorns®, hands down, every time.”
By Communications Staff – Sandy Kaczmarski and Jill Johnson