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Creating a Carolina Fence Garden

Bluffton Middle School teacher, Heidi McAllister, along with her students were able to create a Carolina Fence Garden at the school this spring thanks to the grant funding of the Foundation for Educational Excellence made possible by a generous donation from the Moss Creek Charitable Fund.

What is a Carolina Fence Garden? According to the SC Wildlife Federation website “Utilizing some very basic elements, the Carolina Fence™ incorporates both natural and cultural elements, which have been designated as symbols of our state. The Carolina Fence™ is a landscape component that can be adapted to a variety of settings. The Fence can function as a valuable habitat element while showcasing symbols of natural and cultural history.”

Bluffton Middle School’s Green Steps Club constructed the Carolina Fence Garden on the school’s property. The Green Steps Club includes teachers, parent volunteers, and students that work towards earning awards for establishing sustainability projects within the school where students learn, do and teach others.

In addition to visually enhancing the school, the process of constructing a Carolina Fence Garden also teaches students about their habitat encompassing all subject areas. Through this project, the students had the opportunity to learn about native habitats and their environment within the school community.

Installing a split rail fence as part of the Carolina Fence Garden enhances the true representation of a commonly used device by South Carolinians in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In addition, various elements can be included: South Carolina's State Flower - Yellow Jessamine; local native wildflowers; South Carolina’s state grass - Indian Grass, Sorgastrum nutans; South Carolina’s State Wildflower - Goldenrod (used to attract birds); and South Carolina’s State Stone – Blue Granite.

Students at Bluffton Middle School also plan to include a Carolina Wren House that was constructed by USCB students that are included in the school’s bird housing program to maintain and create houses for birds to migrate and lay eggs in the spring. These eggs are monitored and counted for South Carolina data.

This grant will also create an opportunity for students in the SC Green Steps Club to apply for the Carolina Fence Certification. This certification gives the Green Steps members a project that will count towards Bluffton Middle School becoming a full South Carolina Green Steps School. The program requires a certain amount of projects to receive this high honor. A Green Steps School is an environmental education and action initiative that recognizes schools in South Carolina who take annual sustainable steps toward becoming more environmentally responsible.

Another goal for this project at Bluffton Middle School was to receive recognition as a Certified Palmetto Wildlife Habitat. To do so, certain basic requirements must be met and the students worked hard to fulfill those requirements. Using the grant money, they have already purchased all the materials including the native plants, built the fence, tended to the hummingbird feeders and installed a bird bath. Allowing the habitat to flourish over the summer months, the students will continue this project when they return to school in August with more plants and will be able to place the Palmetto Wildlife Federation sign.

One main goal of the Carolina Fence Garden project was to allow an opportunity for the Green Steps members to use their knowledge and skills to create the space and bring it to life while protecting an area, creating natural wildlife habitat, and working toward the goal of being a fully qualified SC Green Steps School.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better project to be funded,” stated McAllister.

The Carolina Fence Garden at Bluffton Middle School, provided through the funding of the Foundation along with the Moss Creek Charitable Fund, has created a learning environment for all students and the community in the setting of serene natural wildlife with native plants to enjoy for many years to come.


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