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Whitman Middle School Transforms Turf into Pollinator Paradise: A Model for Environmental Sustainability and Education

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FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – In an inspiring collaboration between Fairfax County Public Works and Environmental Services and Fairfax County Public Schools, Whitman Middle School has undergone a transformative change that promises to leave a lasting positive impact on both the school and the environment.

Led by Danielle Wynne, a freshwater ecologist with Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Outreach and Education Section, the planting of a pollinator meadow has taken place on land behind the school that was not being utilized.

"This meadow will not only provide essential food and habitat for our native wildlife but also help reduce emissions by eliminating the need to mow a lawn that wasn't being actively used by the students," said Wynne.

After smothering the turf grass with black tarps, a drill seeder tractor planted a mix of seeds specifically designed to support the local ecosystem.

Photo: Seeder and worker
Seeder and worker


Photo: Seeding


Photo: Seeding in trough
Seeding in trough


Photo: Black tarp
Black tarp


But the benefits don't end there. Converting this 4,000-square-foot turf grass to a native meadow offers numerous advantages. Native plants in Virginia have evolved to thrive in our local ecosystem, providing year-round food and habitat for native wildlife. Moreover, these meadows will provide students at Walt Whitman Middle School with a thriving ecosystem they can study and investigate for years to come.

View the planting video

The resulting pollinator meadow will serve as a valuable resource for students, offering opportunities to learn from and interact with the native environment within their own school while contributing to the conservation and well-being of local wildlife. Additionally, the reduction in underutilized turf grass is a step toward a greener and cleaner Fairfax County, aligning with the broader mission of environmental sustainability.

This project marks the beginning of a series of pollinator meadows seeding programs at schools across the county, highlighting the significance of collaboration and cross-division teamwork within Fairfax County, particularly with Solid Waste, which played a crucial role in the project's success.

For other schools interested in implementing similar projects, the Watershed Education and Outreach section within Stormwater Planning offers a range of free programs for the community.

For more information and contact details, see Watershed Education and Outreach.

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