A unique project is currently underway for Jenks Public Schools. A “living classroom” of butterfly gardens, Chimney Swift towers, rain barrels, and other landscaping features is being constructed near the Freshman Academy in Jenks. This interactive outdoor space will serve as a fascinating way for students to learn about nature.
The school and 9th grade biology/ornithology teacher Todd Humphrey approached Oklahoma Landscape in spring 2013 with the idea for a living classroom. Our licensed landscape architect Paul Strickland then got to work creating 3D concept models of how the finished classroom would look.
“We are excited to see this continue to grow each week,” Oklahoma Landscape President Aaron Wiltshire said. “Ultimately, this will be an incredible and unique space.”
As a Tulsa-area landscaping company, we can really see the far-reaching benefits a project like this could have. In thinking about the project, we felt this was a very unique school concept that could spread across the area into other school systems, allowing kids the opportunity to learn more about plants, landscaping, caring for gardens, etc.
We’re also excited that many of the families we’ve done landscaping for have children who attend Jenks Schools, so they’ll get to enjoy this natural space. And the site for the project is actually just a mile or so from the Oklahoma Landscape office, so it really feels like it’s in our own “backyard.”
When the “Flycatcher Trail” classroom is completed, students will be able to plant vegetables, perennials, feed birds, and study insects. Students will also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the gardens, trails, and water feature.
“This project can help students in many ways. It can teach them how to do things outside. We all know how electronics can dominate the time of our youth. This project helps kids to get their hands dirty, into the soil, so to speak. It helps them take pride in caring and nurturing plants and gardens,” Aaron Wiltshire said. “There’s a lot of pride that comes from nurturing living things and benefiting from the beauty that is created.”
As a landscaping company, we know the benefits that come from working with nature and the creativity that can be awakened in the process, and we hope this project will continue to foster that sense of creativity in our children… and it could even inspire a future Tulsa landscape designer.
“Some of our youth will become aspiring designers, architects, etc., and there are little opportunities we can make available to help put something in front of them that may guide them one way or the other,” Aaron Wiltshire added.
What are some of the features this distinctive classroom will have?
- Entry structure with rain barrels and a pergola pass-through.
- Water feature with streams and a stone bridge.
- Compost bins
- Butterfly garden
- Upright Chimney Swift towers
- Native landscape plants and trees
- Fully automatic sprinkler system
- Cedar split rail fencing
- Extensive decomposed granite trails
While Oklahoma Landscape is spearheading the project, there are many others who have donated time, labor, and materials to make this happen. We felt like we could pull off this huge undertaking because of our reliable team of professionals and with the valuable help of our trusted sub-contractors and suppliers.
“Tulsa and the surrounding towns have made Oklahoma Landscape what it is today, and this project is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community we all share!” Aaron Wiltshire noted.
The Flycatcher Trail, located in a lot east of the 9th grade center, is estimated to be completed in March or early April. Stay tuned for more information on how the work is progressing and the various features of the living classroom…