Ames High School students plant native flowers, grasses around city ahead of break for new greenhouse

·2 min read

For the last time in at least a little while, Ames High School students on Thursday planted some native flowers and prairie flora around the city — the last grown at an existing greenhouse before another will be built.

"We'll have to adapt," high school science teacher Mike Todd said of what will happen between the time the school's existing greenhouse is demolished with the rest of the building and a new one is raised in its place. The new building is expected to be ready this fall.

Todd said he works with the city and school district to grow between 10,000 and 15,000 plants every year — something he's been doing for at least 12 years.

His biology and environmental science students learn about the important roles plants play — feeding insects, which in turn feed birds, for example.

In the afternoon, some Ames High School seniors were on Welch Avenue planting in the tree trenches that retain stormwater, while three others — Amani Diedrichs, Lorna Schuckert and Isabella Haveman — painted a stormwater drain at the corner of Stanton Avenue and Lincoln Way.

Ames High School seniors (foreground) Cheng Yang, Emily Kaminski, (background) Fanny Burke-Bens and teacher Mike Todd work on planting native plants in the tree trenches along Welch Avenue in Campustown, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.
Ames High School seniors (foreground) Cheng Yang, Emily Kaminski, (background) Fanny Burke-Bens and teacher Mike Todd work on planting native plants in the tree trenches along Welch Avenue in Campustown, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

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Diedrichs, who designed the image of a swan with ducklings, said it will read "Protect our history by protecting our environment."

The swan is to remind people of the resident swans at Lake LaVerne across the street and that trash thrown on the ground will be washed into the drain and affect living things they care about.

The students have been working on the painting on Stanton for three weeks, and they have another planned — of a hawk in flight with a fish caught in its talons — near city hall.

Todd said the city pays for the plants and seeds he and his students use, the school buys soil and he applies for grants.

Ames High School senior Cheng Yang works on planting native plants in the tree trenches along Welch Avenue in Campustown, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.
Ames High School senior Cheng Yang works on planting native plants in the tree trenches along Welch Avenue in Campustown, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

He said the plants on Welch included ones that will bloom in different seasons and at different heights.

"You can have an impact here for decades and decades," he said of planting.

"I'm sure we'll come up with something," he said of projects students might do between the availability of greenhouses.

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Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at psitter@gannett.com. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Ames High School students plant last batches of native plants around city, for now