Mount Union Partners with Bethany House and Northside Elementary to Dedicate Gardens

April 27, 2010

On Friday May 25, 2007, students at Northside Elementary gathered outside the school to dedicate a wildlife garden funded through a grant secured by Mount Union College in partnership with Bethany House.

Pictured (L-R): Amanda Espenschied-Reilly, Joanne Kramer and Jamey Graham

Concluding on April 20, which was National and Global Youth Service Day, the project began in August of 2006, when Amanda Espenschied-Reilly, director of service learning and community service at Mount Union, wrote a grant proposal along with Joanne Kramer, the director of Bethany House. This proposal received funding from State Farm Insurance and Learn and Serve America. Their idea was to build an outdoor garden at Northside Elementary. A place for classroom learning, the garden would also give the school a place where students could experience nature and the outside world.

Beginning in January, both Mount Union College students and fourth grade science students at Northside began planning and designing two gardens to attract wildlife to the area. Each features perennials, a waterless pond, a butterfly house, bird feeder and tree. The Bethany House, an after school program for grades kindergarten through third, also built birdhouses to be used in the gardens.

During Friday's dedication, Jamey Graham, wildlife communication specialist from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, was present to certify Northside as a WILD School Site. She presented a plaque to the school, making the elementary one of eight schools in Stark County and the 80th in the state to be given the certification. The garden was dedicated in honor of two boys, six-year-old Mason Ketler-Adger and his four-year-old brother Miles, who perished in a house fire last July.

'This project was a great way to strengthen the partnerships between Mount Union College, Bethany House and Alliance City Schools,' said Espenchied-Reilly. 'It involved people of all ages in a project that would beautify the school grounds and provide teachers with an outdoor learning lab. Northside can continue enjoying, maintaining and adding to the gardens in years to come.'

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