Project Wonder Ground

King's Gate Christian School: Wildlife Habitat Improvement

Kirkpatrick Foundation Grant 2018

The Kirkpatrick Foundation has provided King's Gate Christian School with an award of $10,000 for Project Wonder Ground: Wildlife Habitat Improvement. King's Gate will use $5,000 of the award to complete the wildlife observation deck. The deck will be 16'x17' and about 13' above the ground. The other portion of the grant will be used to maintain the pollinator garden, add native plants install educational signage to help our students and community understand the various species of wildlife that we are trying to promote and protect.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation and Environmental Conservation

The foundation has supported programs designed to build awareness about the natural environment including soil health and freshwater protection. Programs also supported have been for conservation education for teachers and landowners, strategies to protect fauna, and making natural habitats more accessible for all citizens. The health of every community is directly tied to the quality of the environment in which we live, and the foundation seeks to support efforts to ensure that quality.

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Use of Project Funding

For the past decade, Kings Gate Christian school has received widespread recognition for their environmental education programs through their unique approach to outdoor and conservation education, focusing primarily on the biological and physical sciences. Currently, an outdoor classroom is in the process of being built at the Surrey Hill campus. We started a small pollinator garden to begin the project in fall 2017. King’s Gate will partner with Kirkpatrick Foundation in their pursuit to help Oklahoma families realize the health of our environment is tied to the land we steward. King’s Gate will use the grant award by promoting environmental conversation by purchasing native grasses and plants for the pollinator garden, as well as, educational signage and a wildlife observation deck that will overlook the creek bed and wetlands. These elements will support the growing outdoor classroom by providing educational opportunities for our students, families and other community partners.

The Importance of Vernal Ponds

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency webpage on vernal ponds, "The unique environment of vernal pools provides habitat for numerous rare plants and animals that are able to survive and thrive in these harsh conditions. Many of these plants and animals spend the dry season as seeds or eggs and then grow and reproduce when the ponds are again filled with water. In addition, birds such as egrets, ducks, and hawks use vernal pools as a seasonal source of food and water.” Crayfish and frogs have already been observed in our vernal pond and we plan on introducing locally sourced tiger salamander eggs to the pond as well.

Wildlife Observation

Over 40 species of wildlife have been documented in the outdoor classroom. Some of these wonders of creation include: Leopard frogs, Cardinals, Orioles, Eastern bluebirds, Tufted titmice, Mocking birds, Red foxes, Crayfish and numerous pollinators.

Vision of Project Wonder Ground

This special outdoor education area and playground has been named “Wonder Ground," as it is conducive for integrating science with art, history, literature and physical education. Wonder Ground is located on the west side of our school building at Surrey Hills. There are wetlands located behind the creek that feature obligatory plants such as sedges, rushes and a large willow tree. The physical space provides the perfect environment to teach ecology and the conservation of natural resources. Once the project is completed King’s Gate’s science teacher, Ms. Laurie McIvor Gillum, and student volunteers will manage the wetland by providing food resources for migrating waterfowl. This will be completed by allowing the water levels in the vernal pond to be drawn down in the springtime for food producing plants such as smart weed and barnyard grasses to emerge then mature. Water levels will be allowed to fill in the winter months for waterfowl use. Students, our science teacher and volunteers will continue to plant native grasses, flowers and milkweed to provide flowering plants throughout the migrating season.

Volunteer Opportunities

The outdoor classroom will need a steady stream of volunteers to help weed and water the pollinator garden. We are looking for volunteers that can help build or purchase eastern bluebird boxes to hang off of the observation deck. If you have an hour on the weekend to lend a hand or if you have a group that can help, then please email Ms. Laurie at