“I’m sure I shall always feel like a child in the wood.”
Students in fifth grade dove deep into learning and researching invasive species — any kind of living organism (amphibian, plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs) that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm to the environment, the economy, or even human health.
In Science, the students investigated the origins of various natural invaders and how these species are threatening wildlife with damage and disruption to habitats.
In Literature and Writing, they read about the different ways in which animals and plants are physically affected. Non-native species can carry disease, prevent native species from reproducing, and change the food web within an ecosystem by destroying or replacing native food sources or provide little to no food value for wildlife. Invasive species can also alter the abundance or diversity of species that are important habitat for native wildlife.
With Director of Operations Steve Ray on campus, the students took an opportunity to interview an expert to see if the issue might be prevalent at Mount Vernon. Mr. Ray indicated that popular vines such as English Ivy and Wisteria have a tendency to wind themselves around several tree-lined areas on campus. He shared strategies for controlling the fast-growing pests in our surrounding woods.
Mr. Ray’s expertise coupled with their own research inspired the students to make a positive impact on the animal habitats and the natural landscape in and around the MV campus. Just as the weather got warmer, all students in the grade toured the wooded strip just east of Founders Field to study how the landscape has changed over the years with the presence of four specific invasive species that have deposited onto the ground.
They then took action with math teacher Mr. Hendry by cutting vines to protect the mature trees there. Student Laurin Griffith shares, “It helps the environment and the School. If we didn’t do this, then it would be possible for the trees to die and fall over either onto the field or the houses behind them.”
With their new understanding of the destructive nature of these plants, fifth graders can now play a critical role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem by helping to control these two vines.