The student members of the nature club at Power Upper Elementary Schoolbelieve their work makes the school a better place. The people at the Brooksie Way Minigrant program agree.
The program awards grants of up to $2,000 to organizations that promote healthy lifestyles for Oakland County residents. Funds are raised during the Brooksie Way half-marathon and 5K, held Sunday in Rochester Hills.
During monthly after-school meetings and occasional weekend activities, Nature Club members maintain the expansive gardens at the school, go on hikes, and learn about gardening and nature. They also explore a pond on the property, where they often take their nature journals to write poems or reflect. The journals are provided by the club.
Club founder Lynn Halton attended a reception at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester last Wednesday to receive the check.
“This grant will allow us to do some things we didn’t have money to do before,” said Halton. “We can replace some of our benches and put up signage that I’ve been wanting to add. I can use it to buy the kids their journals.”
Stephanie Ruff is a sixth-grader at Power and a second-year member of the Nature Club.
“I’m glad we got (the grant) because I like Nature Club,” Ruff said. “I don’t really like to garden at home because we have bees, but I like to do gardening here. I’ll probably have a garden when I grow up.”
Halton started the club two years ago, when her youngest daughter was a student at Power. Seven years prior, Halton started building the gardens at the front of the school, as a Girl Scout project with her older daughter.
“Because the project kept growing, I needed help maintaining the garden, so my daughter suggested I start a club at the school,” Halton said. “It’s good for the kids to get outside and enjoy nature, and this year I'm putting more emphasis on learning about healthy eating.”
In addition to perennial and butterfly gardens, Nature Club also grows vegetables and herbs. Halton has sold their basil at the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market and used the proceeds to buy plants and supplies for the club.
The school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) assists with funding the Nature Club. Grants have also been received by Lowe’s and the Farmington/Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families. Steinkopf Nursery and Fendt Builder’s Supply, both in Farmington Hills, have donated supplies.
“We have such great community support – great parents and neighbors that help us out,” Halton said.
On Oct. 27, the group will host a “Brooksie Way Grant Kick-Off Day” at Power from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will move rocks, trim bushes, and help with other tasks, followed by a picnic to celebrate the grant. The event will be open to the public.