National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased to recognize that Middleburg Montessori School (MMS) has successfully created a Certified Schoolyard Habitat® through its Garden for Wildlife program. Middleburg Montessori has joined with over 5,000 schools nationwide that have transformed their schoolyards into thriving wildlife habitats that provide essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. The habitat also serves as an outdoor education site where students engage in cross-curricular, hands-on learning.

Certification also included the creation of a pollinator garden as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators. Two elementary students at Middleburg Montessori School took an interest in pollinators and were guided and encouraged to pursue this project as part of their studies. Staff from the Piedmont Environmental Council visited MMS to teach the children more about the needs of pollinators and help them select a site, and Watermark Woods Native Plants provided the plants.

“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.

“Middleburg Montessori School provides an environment for our children to connect with nature and learn stewardship, from our sustainable agriculture curriculum to lessons on ecology,” said BethAnn Slater, Head of School. “We are excited to be able to provide even more hands-on learning opportunities for our students and spark curiosity about the natural world in our beautiful Schoolyard Habitat.”

Middleburg Montessori School’s habitat on their campus in the village of Atoka is filled with native plantings, including many native trees, milkweed, goldenrod, aster, beardtongue, and more. It also has wetlands and a wide variety of wildlife that children enjoy observing and studying such as frogs, toads, song birds, birds of prey, rabbits, deer, groundhogs, and even bear! Students enjoy free play, nature study, and active care for the environment on the MMS campus. The school also uses eco-friendly landscaping practices such as composting, chemical-free lawn care, and rainwater collection for irrigation of its vegetable gardens managed by the students.