By Bob Skolnik
There will be lots of pollination going on in front of Hauser Junior High School in the future. That's thanks to a new garden that students planted in front of the school last week.
With help from Lupfer Landscaping, owned by Riverside resident Tom Lupfer, seven Hauser students and four Lupfer employees planted a cross-pollinating garden in front of the school at 65 Woodside Road.
The students are members of the Roots & Shoots Club, a local chapter of the organization founded by noted primatologist Jane Goodall to foster environmental awareness among young people throughout the world.
Hauser's Roots & Shoots Club was founded this year by seventh-grade English teacher Patrick McAndrew, who learned about the club while teaching in Nepal. When McAndrew was looking for a project for the new club, Hauser Assistant Principal Christine Mullin suggested planting a garden. The 12 students in the club decided that was a good idea and set about making it happen.
"It really contributes to the community and I just felt that the space in front of the school was just wasting away," said eighth-grader Moncerrat Tirado. "A garden was better and more beneficial for the environment."
The students received a $200 grant from the Jane Goodall Foundation and then raised another $400 by hosting a movie night at Hauser.
Last month some students from the club appeared on a panel during the One Earth Film Festival held at the Thatcher Woods Forest Preserve in River Forest. One woman in the audience was so impressed by the students' presentation that when it was over she walked up to them and gave them $100.
The students then wrote a letter to Lupfer Landscaping asking for help.
Lupfer, whose firm donated plants and manpower to create a garden at Blythe Park School last year, provided the services of his firm free of charge.
He supplied more than 100 plants for the garden and a few employees to help with the work.
"It's always nice to give back to your town," said Lupfer, who also serves as a Riverside Township trustee.
Lupfer also volunteered his expertise last year to help the Riverside Parks and Recreation Department improve the soccer field at Harrington Park
On May 8, students, Lupfer and his workers prepared the garden, removing wood chips and laying down soil and compost. He also explained the chemistry and engineering of the garden to the students. On May 11, the students and few Lupfer employees planted the garden.
"It feels nice that our dream is coming to life and we did it," said Hauser eighth-grader Krysta Pelayo, her hands blackened by the soil.
The club will use the $700 they raised to buy a boulder and commemorative plaque to be placed at the front of the garden. Students were concerned that other students would not respect the garden and trample the plants by walking or running through it, so Lupfer designed a stone walkway through the garden.
The garden is planted with a variety of hardy native plants that will attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
"We want to attract all those creatures, because they will help pollinate other plants in the area and increase the amount of green that we have in our environment," McAndrew said.
The garden will be classified as an official Monarch butterfly way station.
The plants won't crowd each other out and don't need much long-term maintenance, Lupfer said.