Though the hype surrounding this year's First Bloom Garden Design Contest may not have been up to par with the American Idol finale, these winners were just as excited. Ask any of the winning students if they love their national parks and the answer will be a resounding, YES!
Just last week, 80 fourth grade students from Robert Moton Elementary School in Westminster, Maryland celebrated their winning garden design with a special prize trip, arranged by the National Park Foundation, to visit a handful of national parks in our nation's capital. These students have been working with Catoctin Mountain Park since the beginning of the school year to design a garden full of native plant species . You can check out their winning design here.
The group began the day at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island where Ranger Patrick and Ranger Emily led the students on a short trail walk. Surrounded by leafy, green foliage and the sounds of nature, students learned about Roosevelt's role in the conservation movement and the history of the island. The group then headed to the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, where they heard the story about how their school's namesake, Dr. Robert Moton, gave the keynote address at the dedication ceremony of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. The students were in awe of this fact. The visit ended with a brief stop to view the impressive Washington Monument before heading back to school. Overall, their day in D.C. was a great way to build off of their experience with Catoctin Mountain Park and help nurture a lasting, more meaningful relationship with their national parks.
WBAL TV in Baltimore, MD ran a segment on the students and their winning design. You can watch "Students Win National Contest By Building Garden" here. Read what Baltimore Sun's Susan Reimer has to say about the project in her post "Students team with Catoctin Mountain Park for award-winning design" on her blog "Garden Variety". And if you still have time, definitely take a look at Carroll County Times reporter Carrie Ann Knauer's "Robert Moton fourth-graders win national contest for garden" and Westminster Patch blogger Kym Byrnes' "Robert Moton Students Shine with Winning Garden Design".
You can help support National Park Foundation programs like First Bloom by visiting nationalparks.org.