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The Northside Elementary School in Panama City was visited by Steve Theberge, Northwest Regional Director of the Florida Wildlife Federation, to help celebrate Northside’s recent winning of the Federation’s statewide Kids’ Wildlife Habitat Contest. The Federation is headquartered in Tallahassee.

This year’s contest was the 9th, with former winners in Leesburg, Kissimmee, Miami, Pembroke Pines, Madeira Beach, and several other locations. The Florida Wildlife Federation is dedicated to encouraging the efforts of young people to be active outdoors and to be aware that our state needs everybody to help preserve our state’s environment. The contest is open to all children in Florida 12 years old or younger who have helped to establish and maintain a place where food, water, cover, and a place to raise young are available to wildlife.

Northside actually was given two awards, as they entered two separate gardens, one belonging to 2nd graders and one belonging to Kindergarteners. The 2nd-grade garden, established with the help and guidance of 2nd Grade teacher Carla Santiny, is meant to attract toads, birds, squirrels, and ladybugs. The Kindergarten garden, where students are supervised by April Cannon, Kindergarten teacher, is designed for toads and butterflies. Both habitats provide all things necessary to attract and sustain Florida’s native wildlife. Shrubs and flowers that provide nectar and berries for animal residents and visitors are easily available. Northside’s Principal is Amy Harvey.

Students have worked not only to dig and plant the garden, but have done classroom research on which plants to use to attract the wildlife they want in their garden. The nature lessons that students acquire while working in the garden and observing the life cycles and habits of the garden’s wild creatures will help them to appreciate all the kinds of wildlife that Floridians are privileged to have in such abundance.

Northside Elementary celebrated Earth Day on Friday, April 20, 2018 with an assembly on the campus for students and visitors. Director Steve Theberge presented framed award plaques, two butterfly puppets and a book about nature to be used in the school’s library.