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Campus Habitat Improvement Plan

By Francis Carter

Type of activity:

  • KERA Goals 1.1, 1.8, 1.16, 2.17, 2.19, 2.20, 2.21 ,
    2.22, 2.24, 2.25, 2.27, 2.29, 3.55, 3.57, 3.58, 3.59,
    3.60, 4.62, 5.68, 6.73, 6.74
  • Hands-on
  • Inquiry Lab
  • Authentic Assessment
  • Group/Cooperative Learning
  • Community Outreach
  • Review/Reinforcement

Target audience:

  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • Advanced Biology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Special needs
  • Special education
  • See KERA Goals

Background information:

Notes for teacher: can be obtained from Wildlife Management on Your Land by Charles L. Cadieux and Wildlife Management Techniques Manual by The Wildlife Society.

Students are required: to participate in field activities only with regular classroom assignments.

Preparation time: for teachers requires several hours of work with local experts in the field of management practices.

Class time: will require one to two periods for initial practice procedures, one class period for the formation of the school plan, four to five class periods to implement the plan, and one to two periods to complete the evaluation of the plan.

Unit outline

(example of plan formulated for Southwestern High School in 1993.)

The improvement plan was written in 1993 and will continue until 1998. The property consists of forty acres of new development. Species of interest include songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, squirrels, rabbits and amphibians.

Recommended habitat improvement practices:

  1. Plant fruit and nut producing trees, shrubs, and conifers for food and cover.
  2. Plant hummingbird and butterfly gardens.
  3. Build and erect bird boxes.
  4. Construct small waterhole.
  5. Establish native warm season grasses.



In working with students to provide suitable habitat for species of interest teachers can begin to develop the school campus into an outdoor classroom. Students will build self-esteem while obtaining useful real-life skills related to ecological practices. Students will have the opportunity to work with professionals from related fields of study. The hands-on activities give students a chance to put into practice the theories and themes that have been studied in a closed classroom setting. Students will learn to read aerial photographs, perform biological surveys, and write wildlife management plans. They will carry out management practices on the campus site and learn to evaluate the success of their program.

Materials needed:

  • Teachers will need the text mentioned earlier.
  • Tools like shovels, hoes, rakes, pruning shears, and other landscaping utensils will need to be purchased.
  • Trees, shrubs, flowers, potting soil, and mulch will also be needed.
  • Aerial photographs and field guides.


  1. Obtain aerial photographs of the campus.

  2. Complete a biological survey of the campus.

  3. Contact the State Fish & Wildlife Agency for information on Habitat Improvement Program (HIP). If the state has these programs (Kentucky does) then the school can apply for funding. In Kentucky state biologist will assist the teachers in writing the habitat improvement plan. The plan is written for five years with schools receiving funding of $499.00 per year. If the state Fish & Wildlife biologist cannot assist contact the US Forest Service biologist or Quail Unlimited regional biologist.

  4. The unit can be set up for the fall or spring. Some teachers might want a mini unit for both.

  5. Write the improvement plan based upon the region and species of interest. Some of the trees and shrubs can be donated from local agencies.

  6. Once the plan is written the implementation can be carried out in segments. Example fall bulbs verses spring bulbs. It is best to plant trees in the late fall due to lack of rain in the summer months.

Description of Activity:

Activities can vary. If you teach five biology classes, when studying plants each class could have their own project. One could do a butterfly garden while another planted trees for cover of song birds. This type of activity can be as varied as the teacher wishes.


This will depend upon the type of plan written for your area. The first year at Southwestern fruit and nut producing trees and shrubs were planted only with conifers for cover. In the lesson students studied the species of interest (species wishing to attract) to determine types of foods and cover requirements. The students then determined the types of trees and shrubs needed. These were then purchased from HIP funds and planted following in the location determined in the improvement plan.


The unit consists of the plan developed by the students along with the wildlife biologist to develop the campus into an outdoor classroom. The plan was developed by students for use of all disciplines in the curriculum.

Method of Evaluation:

  • Written open-response questions.
  • Written test.
  • Observation of the management practices carried out by students. Since this is a five year plan in the state of Kentucky the constant care of the area and the implementation of the management practices are changing as the landscape of the campus evolves into an abode of learning experiences for students.

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