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How To Get Certified

The Barnegat Bay watershed is a great place to live, learn, work, and play. It’s up to us to keep our watershed healthy for both people and wildlife. In the School Certification Program, your students will learn about the importance of clean water for drinking, swimming, and fishing; healthy soil for gardening and growing; and essential habitat for wildlife. With your guidance, they will use what they’ve learned to plan, design, and install a Jersey-Friendly Yards garden project at their school.

Learning Actions and a Schoolyard Project

The School Program is organized around four main components:
Know Before You Grow, Conserve Water, Welcome Wildlife, and Complete a Jersey-Friendly Project (see descriptions below). In the first three components, students will complete a series of Learning Actions based on the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard. In the fourth component, they will put their environmental knowledge into practice by completing a schoolyard project.

Links to appropriate lessons and activities are provided for the Learning Actions; however, you can choose instead to use your own lessons and activities that align with the topics. Alternatively, we have also provided guest speaker recommendations for various topics. Lessons and activities are grade-appropriate as indicated by the following designations:

  • All Grades (AG)
  • Pre-K and Kindergarten (PKK)
  • Grades 1-3, Early/Lower Elementary (LE)
  • Grades 4-6, Upper Elementary (UE)
  • Grades 7-9, Middle School (MS)
  • Grades 10-12, High School (HS)

Learning Actions can be completed in any order; we recommend starting with Know Before You Grow, then building from there. The Learning Actions will help your students prepare for their schoolyard garden project.

Get started by enrolling in the School Program!

Click the button below to enroll in the Jersey-Friendly Yards School Certification Program. Your answers to a series of questions will be sent to the Jersey-Friendly Yards staff. Once you’ve finished enrolling, you should receive an email from us, and we can help you get started. You will receive a custom link to submit information as you complete the Learning Actions and your schoolyard project. In the meantime, feel free to return to this page and start exploring the 4 Major Components to School Certification below.

4 Major Components to School Certification

The components below are the basis for School Certification. Click each component to begin exploring the topics that will be covered within this program.

1. Know Before You Grow

Planning a schoolyard garden or landscape requires some preliminary thought and preparation. Whether you’re a novice or experienced gardener, a well-thought-out plan serves as a road map, guiding your actions and decisions on the way to your final project. Knowing how much light an area gets during the day, the type of soil you have, and how to take care of it are all incredibly important to know when creating a garden.

2. Conserve Water

Watering wisely and fertilizing less are crucial practices for sustainable and responsible gardening. Efficient water use helps conserve this precious resource. Similarly, reducing fertilizer use minimizes environmental impacts by preventing nutrient runoff, which can contaminate water sources and harm aquatic ecosystems. Using compost in place of traditional fertilizer ensures that plants receive adequate nutrients without contributing to soil and water pollution, fostering a more Jersey-Friendly approach to gardening.

3. Welcome Wildlife

Native plants are inherently adapted to local climates and ecosystems, providing food, shelter, and nesting sites for a variety of native wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. These gardens form interconnected ecosystems that support a diverse range of species. The presence of native plants also provides habitat for native insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds, establishing a balanced and self-sustaining ecosystem.

4. Complete a Jersey-Friendly Project

Now that you’re an expert in all things Jersey-Friendly, it’s time to work on your project! In this last step, you will come up with an official design for your garden, pick out your desired plants from the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database, and prepare your location for planting day.