You don’t have to be big to make a big difference when it comes to our green spaces. School is back in session, and Lucky the TurfMutt is offering tips to inspire elementary school students and their families to take care of their yards, school grounds, parks and other living landscapes – and get outside and enjoy them!
- Get outside! Fall is a great time to explore nature all around you. After spending a long day of being inside at school, take some time afterward to enjoy your yard and nearby parks.
- Notice the different kinds of plants in your yard. Walk around the outside of your home, take notes and sketch what you see. What makes your yard unique? Mark on your sketch the living (plants, trees, grass) and the non-living (patios, grills) parts of your landscape. What might impact living plants? Does your yard need plants that are tolerant of wind, full sun, shade, or occasional flooding?
- Notice the areas needing improvements. Do plants need mulch around them to help them save water? Do you have plants that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies? Do you have a healthy mix of grass, shrubs, trees and flowering plants? Are some parts of your yard a little worn out?
- Make a plan to take care of your yard. Talk with your parent or guardian about how you can care for your lawn and landscape, and the improvements you want to make. Students and their parents or guardians should create a plan to take care of the yard and make the improvements together.
- Put the right plant in the right place. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find out what plants are best for where you live. Use a mix of native and adaptive plants and place them where they will thrive.
- Visit TurfMutt.com to play games and read digital storybooks for free to learn more. Join Lucky the TurfMutt and his friends, the Outdoor Powers on their adventures to save the planet one yard at a time. The website offers home-based activities, digital storybooks, lesson plans for teachers and more.
- Keep an eye out for the “Be a Backyard Superhero” essay contest for grades K-5, which will be announced this fall. You can tell TurfMutt how you improved or cared for your yard, and battled the evil environmental villains.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Research and Education Foundation and has reached more than 68 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat also is featured in the 2017 and the upcoming 2018 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars.