Los Angeles Youth Tackle Environmental Challenges Through Hands-On Learning

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 24, 2016) — The Nature Conservancy, through its innovative Nature Works Everywhere program, is helping students at Nathaniel Narbonne High School to understand and protect the natural systems that produce food, water, clean air and energy in their community, through a hands-on learning experience at their school campus in the Harbor City neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Sixty students at the school worked hand in hand with over 40 Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers, and staff from The Nature Conservancy and California-based nonprofit Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants—who designed plans and supplied California native plants to help refurbish the garden—to install a native habitat garden at the school. This project will teach students how to achieve a drought-tolerant garden that uses 80 percent less water than conventional non-native gardens and supports biodiversity. This type of garden also provides important habitat for wildlife like birds, insects, and pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, in the urban environment. The students and volunteers planted over 200 drought-tolerant plants native to California, and made other improvements to the school’s garden space—one of the largest school gardens in the Los Angeles area. 

The garden is a living environmental science learning laboratory at the school, and also a space where students and staff have regular and ongoing access to nature—with greater opportunities for the community to access and be involved with the green space in the future—which recent studies suggest helps develop better concentration, problem-solving skills, self-esteem and a conservation ethic.

“Narbonne High School prides itself on interactive learning. The Nature Conservancy and Lowe’s are helping us create a living green classroom to provide our students an enriching and beautiful outdoor space to learn in and enjoy. The garden provides students a natural environment to experience hands-on science as well as engage in many other learning concepts for their other courses.” said Tina Perry, teacher at Narbonne High School.

“I am very proud of our students at Narbonne High School for being leaders in promoting environmental sustainability, and for doing their part to make the Los Angeles Unified School District the greenest and most sustainable large urban school district in the nation,” said L.A. Board of Education member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “The Nature Works Everywhere program is perfect for making our youngsters understand how important it is to take care of the environment in their community.”

With a diverse student body, more than 60 percent of students at Narbonne High School participate in a free or reduced lunch program. And as part of the Los Angeles Unified School District—the nation’s second-largest school system—the school is one of more than 50 schools across the nation that received Nature Works Everywhere grants this year, thanks to generous support from Lowe’s and other partners. Lowe’s donated $1.25 million to The Nature Conservancy this year, bringing its total giving to more than $11 million since 2005.

“Lowe’s believes involving youth in environmental projects gives students the opportunity to experience the outdoors in new ways and become advocates for nature, while contributing positively to their own communities,” said James Frison, Lowe’s director of community relations. “Nature Works Everywhere is a fantastic program that helps address environmental challenges in urban communities, while also instilling students, teachers and families with valuable knowledge about nature and the world around us.”

“Imagine if we could re-introduce outdoor time into the school day, redefine educational outcomes to include civic and community engagement, and empower the largest and most diverse generation in history to tackle the most daunting environmental challenges facing the world today,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of youth engagement programs for The Nature Conservancy. “Revitalizing the garden into a flourishing outdoor learning green space at Narbonne, and at schools like it all over the country, moves us closer to that goal.”

High resolution before and after photos of the garden, and video b-roll video footage of the work day, can be found here: Narbonne Garden Work Day Photos and Video B-Roll


About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 119 million acres of land, and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.


About Lowe’s in the Community

Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 50-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. Since 2007, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed more than $250 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. To learn more, visit Lowes.com/SocialResponsibility and the Lowe’s digital newsroom at Newsroom.lowes.com.

About Nathanial Narbonne High School

The mission of Narbonne High School is to provide all students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to become contributing members of a diverse, ever-changing society. Narbonne is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest. Our expectation is that every student will graduate in four years with 21st Century skills and will be college and career ready. To learn more, visit https://narbonnehs-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.

About Theodore Payne Foundation

The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, established 1960, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that operates a California native plant education center, retail nursery, public gardens, and seed and bookstore open to the public year round. Learn more about the Foundation and gardening with native plants at theodorepayne.org.