Host a Bug Festival!
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Try my PBL project
Butterfly Brigade

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Nature Center Photo Album

Nature Center Lessons

Nature Center - Ecology
Lesson Plan Links


Nature Center - Our schoolyard garden project


The Havana Nature Center became a reality in May of 1999 after months of planning and preparation. A $500 grant from the Logan, Mason, Menard Regional Office of Education, along with generous donations from our local community groups, businesses, and individuals provided the resources to fund this project. With the help of local green thumbs and agencies, the garden was designed to attract a variety of wildlife. Local green thumbs, parents, and students worked together from the initial ground breaking work to seasonal maintenance. A natural pond, a variety of flowers and shrubs, natural areas for shelter, and an abundance of wildlife provides a living classroom with endless opportunities for learning and enjoyment.

The Nature Center, complete with an Outdoor Classroom area, provided students with a chance to apply their knowledge to a natural setting. Children were able to learn much more about nature as they explored and investigated this garden.

UPDATE: During the summer of 2023, the garden project came to an end due to my upcoming retirement and lack of volunteers to take over the project.  However, in the fall of 2023 I was able to partner with two local nature areas to conduct the Biodiversity Blitz project and introduce students to new areas to explore in our own "back yards" - Chautauqua Wildlife Refuge and Emiquon Preserve!  It was a great experience for all of us!  

Picture above was taken fall of 1999
Click here for our Photo Album showing the garden's first eight years!

Also visit ...
Nature Center Links
and Nature Center Lessons
Check out our new project - Interactive Math Garden

Nature Center Goals
• To develop a garden area that has an impact on the environment through conservation and preservation.
• To establish an educational resource for children and adults to study and enjoy in a variety of ways.
• To create an awareness of the need to establish habitat areas for various forms of wildlife that can be done easily in gardens or backyard areas.
• To provide an opportunity for children and adults to work together towards a common goal.
• To encourage children and adults to create backyard habitats of their own.

Nature Center Lessons
One of my main goals for the garden was to ensure that it was a living classroom that would be used by every student in our district. Numerous lessons related to plants, animals, weather, and ecology provide district students with the tools they need to explore the environment. To browse sample lessons, visit the Nature Center Lessons Page. The Adopt-An-Insect project allowed over 400 junior high students to explore the world of the minibeasts. Inquiry-based insect lessons, Nature Center explorations, and a Bug Festival highlighted this school-wide project. The Pond Water Survey allows seventh grade students a microscopic view of the life found in the garden pond. Each spring the garden welcomes kindergarten students during their annual pond unit. The junior high students love sharing their knowledge of the garden with the younger children! The Nature Center lessons allow children of all ages to expand their knowledge of the world around them - building a love of nature along the way.

Nature Center Projects
Spring is a busy season for the Nature Center. Students, parents, teachers, and community members join forces on several weekends to prepare the garden for another season of blooms and beauty and to add new features for the students to explore.

Nature Center Library (established Fall 1999)
A collection of field guides, reference books, and videos for educators and students as well as supplies, tools, and equipment to provide the materials the students need to investigate the garden.

Living Tree Collection (added Spring 2000)
A collection of over 30 native and ornamental trees! Thanks to Marc (Trimpe) Tomm, the local Boy Scout troop, the Nature Conservancy, and the Mason County Soil and Water Conservation District for their efforts to make this project a reality!

For The Birds (added Spring 2000)
Bird feeders, field guides and bluebird houses allow children to investigate the world of birds. Thanks to the Emiquon Audubon Society for their donation to make this project possible.

Water Wonderland (added Spring 2001)
A large pond provides opportunities to investigate aquatic plants and animals. The project was funded by a Schoolyard Habitat grant from the Illlinois Department of Conservation. Thanks to Josh Irons and the local Boy Scoot troop for providing a beautiful water garden and a variety of aquatic life to investigate in our Outdoor Classroom. In addition to the pond, the Havana CUSD #126 Board of Education donated the funds to provide a picket fence around the garden.
NOTE: Thanks to Cass Cable for drilling a tunnel to provide electrictiy to the garden!

Monarch Cafe (added Spring 2001)
Students added a variety of milkweed plants to create a special area for Monarch butterflies! They enjoyed collecting caterpillars and watching them transform into adults. As a member of the Monarch Watch program, students were able to tag the butterflies before releasing them in the garden.

Bald Eagle Days (added Winter 2002)
Junior high students held a penny drive during the annual Bald Eagle Days Festival in our community to raise money for books and other educational materials about bald eagles for the Nature Center library . The penny drive also provided the money needed for a live bird show and allowed us to adopt an eagle!

Garden Guides (completed Fall 2003)
Mrs. (Trimpe) Tomm's Accelerated Science students will create garden guides for elementary students in Kindergarten-2nd grade students as well as 3rd & 4th grade students. The garden guides will be used to highlight 10 areas of the garden and provide facts about the garden plants and wildlife. Thanks to the Havana Federation of Teachers for a $50 grant to purchase wooden posts for the garden as well as other materials that will be used to make the garden guides.

Tadpole Project (added Spring 2006)
Mrs. McDaniel's 5th grade students added a small pond area and waterfall as a home for tadpoles. The 5th grade students study frogs throughout the year and learn about their life cycles, habitats, and conservation issues.

Patio Pergola (added Spring 2007)
Thanks to Robert Stockham and the local Boy Scout troop for building a pergoula over the patio in our garden. It provides much needed shade and we will be adding vining plants to attract hummingbirds and insects.

Prairie Restoration Plot
An assortment of prairie plants will allow students to explore the beauty and history of our state. Thanks to Earthskin Nursery for their promise of an assortment of prairie plants to make this project possible.

Other projects ...

Monarch Watch
Each fall we participate in the Monarch Watch tagging project and recruit lots of big and little helpers, such as the (Trimpe) Tomm and McDaniel familes.

Classroom Feeder Watch
During the fall/winter of each year we will be participating in the Classroom Feeder Watch project sponsored by the Illinois Audubon Society. Thanks to our local chapter, Emiquon Audubon Society, for their support of this project!

If you have any questions about the Nature Center project, please use my contact form!


Privacy Policy

© 1999-2024
The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL.  Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences.  Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.