"Fallingwater in Focus"

School Grounds Greening Initiative Connects Kids to Nature

For members and supporters of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, nature and greenery play a prominent role in our lives. Trees, plants and flowers provide us with a sense of renewal, enjoyment and even wonder.

WPC worker surveying the school grounds

Recent studies show that greenery and the outdoors also play a critical role in child development. According to experts, exposure to nature can improve children’s concentration and spark their imagination. School grounds with green areas encourage physical activity and improve children’s health. Playing outside also helps kids develop good social skills and reduces behavioral problems. In addition, exposure to the outdoors instills in children a sense of respect for the earth and the environment. Given all of these benefits, school grounds that consist of concrete and asphalt simply don’t cut it.

Thanks to a multi-year grant of $1.5 million from The Grable Foundation, the Western PennsylvaniaConservancy now can bring the benefits of the outdoors and greenery to students of all 66 Pittsburgh Public Schools. The new School Grounds Greening Initiative will be implemented in close collaboration with the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Operations Office and will be complete by 2011.

“There’s been a national effort to get kids outside and connected to nature in healthy and positive ways,” said WPC’s school grounds greening coordinator, David Wilson. “There are projects underway across the country, in San Francisco, Boston and Washington D.C., and even worldwide, in Canada, England and Germany. This initiative is a part of that trend.”

WPC worker surveying the school grounds

Through the new initiative, every school in the district will receive greenery that is customized for its grounds and the needs of its students. Green features at each school may include outdoor classrooms, “green” fences and walls enhanced with vegetation, raised beds for school planting projects, additional trees, play areas with natural surfaces, and quiet reading areas with plants and seating for students and teachers. When possible, students will join in the planning and implementation of the projects.

Wilson noted that the green spaces are designed to ensure longterm maintenance is manageable for busy school maintenance personnel. “We are raising awareness about what can be done with very simple landscaping solutions,” he said. “We are recommending and implementing projects that improve the look and function of the landscape for very little, if any, extra effort. In addition, these techniques may actually save labor time and funds and bring the benefits of a more attractive landscape to the wider community.”

Students appreciating the greenery

2009 Members' Day and
Annual Meeting

WPC invites our members to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together. We’d also like to thank you for your loyal membership support.

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The Fallingwater Cookbook

The Fallingwater Cookbook takes readers into the kitchen of Fallingwater and the world of the Kaufmanns, who entertained many famous guests at their weekend retreat.

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Safeguard Your Future

For 77 years, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has protected this region’s land, water and wildlife. We haven’t done it alone – as a loyal member, you have played a vital part.

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