Ten years ago, a 1½-acre area behind Seymour-Jackson Elementary School was nothing but a flat, grassy field with one tree.
But once money became available and students and volunteers went to work, it became an outdoor nature lab with hundreds of trees, a pond with a waterfall, gardens with plants and flowers, birdhouses and different types of wildlife. It was named Wildcat Habitat after the school’s mascot.
In 2008, a handicapped-accessible walkway was added and named Addie’s Walk in memory of former student Addie Bryden, who died May 10, 2007. It recently was repaved.
On Thursday, the school invited people who have helped with the projects over the years to a celebration honoring the 10th anniversary of the Wildcat Habitat and the rededication of Addie’s Walk.
It was a time to reflect on the progress that has been made with the two features, which are open to the public outside of school hours.
Peggy Stark, who retired three years ago after 30 years with Seymour Community School Corp., and her husband, Steve Stark, are the stewards of the Wildcat Habitat.
“When we planted this, it’s wasn’t for us. It was always for the kids, and it’s for the future,” said Peggy, who spent her last 13 years of teaching at Jackson.
“We both think it’s really important that people enjoy the outdoors and the gifts that God has given us,” she said.
“Beyond that, it’s about learning,” Steve said, noting how students had a hand in the design and features of the wildlife habitat.
“Those things were drawn out in a classroom on a grid, and then they were brought out here … and kids built them,” he said. “They had that much pride in this, and they wanted it to be the best.”
Members of the school’s Habitat Club have helped plant and maintain hundreds of trees, plants and flowers over the years.
Read the full story in Wednesday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.