Spring Hill Elementary School Student Garden Project. Photos Courtesy of Klorane Botanical Foundation

KNOXVILLE, TN — Spring Hill Elementary School has been named a winner of the second annual Budding Botanist Grant, created to give children the opportunity to be connected to nature through garden-based learning. Awarded to school educators to provide much-needed resources for creating learning gardens with their students, the Budding Botanist

Jennifer Searle, Special Program Manager, Office of the Mayor

Grant is sponsored by the Klorane Botanical Foundation as part of its mission to protect the plant universe and biodiversity, and a three-year partnership with national nonprofit KidsGardening.org, a leader in the school gardening movement for over 35 years, 

One of six winning schools across the country, Spring Hill Elementary School was selected for its commitment to teaching environmental sustainability and biodiversity. The school is utilizing the Budding Botanist Grant to create a certified wildlife habitat featuring 16 trees, shrubs and flowering plants that are native to the city of Knoxville. The garden will also serve as a haven for up to 169 species of birds, moths, butterflies and caterpillars. 

On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, the Klorane Botanical Foundation and KidsGardening helped to host the garden project and celebration at the school in honor of receiving the Budding Botanist Grant. The event kicked off the second annual Budding Botanist events around the country, and celebrated the students’ hard work and dedication to the school garden. 

Representing Mayor Madeline Rogero, Jennifer Searle, Special Program Manager in the

New Wildlife Habitat Garden at Spring Hill Elementary School

Office of the Mayor, was in attendance to support and celebrate the achievements of the students and faculty. Addressing the attendees, Jennifer Searle read a proclamation stating, “Now, therefore, I, Madeline Rogero, Mayor of the City of Knoxville, Tennessee, do hereby proclaim April 24, 2019, to be: Budding Botanist Day in our city, and urge all citizens to join in this observance.”

For the celebration’s garden activity, 5th grade students planted marigold seeds in individual pots. “What I like best about this garden is seeing how much changed from a flat piece of grass that no one used to … a garden that will be here forever,” said 5th grade student Kaleb Felder. 

Another 5th grade student, Olivia Fominykl, added, “…It’s a good thing that will help the planet.”

During the event, KidsGardening Education Specialist Christine Gall addressed the students:  “A botanist is a scientist who studies plants and cares for plants. By creating and taking care of this space you are botanists in training…” Klorane Senior Brand Manager Annia Spahr added, “The program you have here at the school is absolutely amazing and we are so happy to be a part of your success. I hope you all continue to love nature…” 

Grant applicant Amanda Callahan-Mims, the school’s STEM Lab Teacher, said, “…I’m excited for the coneflowers because we planted enough [so] that in the fall…when they’re about to die back…we’ll be able to collect some…and let the kids do science experiences. …We now have a source for our curriculum related to life cycles.” 

Beth Lackey, Spring Hill Elementary School Principal remarked, “…When you think about engaging the community with your school, what better place to do that than in a garden. Everybody gets to enjoy it!”