During our first in class program students learned about native and invasive plants. This consisted of an introduction to native plants and an interactive activity on invasive plants. In this activity each student had a picture of an invasive plant taped to their back and they asked yes or no questions to other students in order to figure out what invasive plant they were. They had an Invasive Plants of Alaska booklet to help them figure out which plant they were. The kids really enjoyed this game and by looking through this book, it gave them a better understanding of the invasive plants in the area.
After this activity, the students had a lot to say about native and invasive plants. Many wanted to share anecdotes of their encounters with invasive plants or native plants. Later that week I went back to their classroom with native plant seeds, planting trays, soil and a plant field guide. We planted several varieties of native plants that will be used for restoration work in a local wetland and for a native plant garden.
Native plants are essential for maintaining the diversity of our ecosystems. They are a source of food, help with erosion control, provide seeds for revegetation and provide shelter for animals like birds. The propagation of invasive plants does not provide us or native animals with such benefits. They often prevent the success of native plants which affects the success of animals that depend on them, thus endangering our biodiversity. It is great to see how interested these students were in learning about this subject.