Students establish native plant installation at Burlingame

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Daria Burnosova

Olivia Johnson picks away grass in order to place new soil for the native plants.

Daria Burnosova, Staff Reporter

On the morning of May 5, Youth Climate Ambassadors Olivia Johnson, Emma Gubbles and Zoe Tsai broke ground on a small garden at the side of the A Building. The garden is a product of the Burlingame sophomores’ work in the Youth Climate Ambassador Program, launched by the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability for teens interested in environmentalism.

The six month-long program lasts from January to June. Students are given a broad variety of project options, including setting up stands at a farmers market or planting an edible garden, to choose from that best suits their interests and skill sets. Johnson completed a system analysis report showing that the most impactful type of project her team could do was building a small native-plant garden at Burlingame.

“There’s a variety of different ways, but we decided that we really wanted to do a physical model, because we thought that that would be our best shot,” Johnson said.

 The ambassadors worked with the school administration to organize a day when they could plant their garden, comprised of native plants such as Diamond Heights carmel creeper, Annayum D sunburst, cyanosis and succulents. Johnson picked these plants for technical reasons; they conserve water, are low maintenance and help to keep pests away.

“It is an attempt to bolster biodiversity in our community and also to more effectively use BHS’s water resources,” Johnson said. “The grass that’s in currently uses up a ton of water, and it’s honestly not great for the environment.”

Student and parent volunteers came to help the ambassadors with the planting process. From 10 a.m. until roughly 5 p.m., the ambassadors and the volunteers came together to beautify the campus. 

The garden is a work in progress, and the girls will continue to add more plants. Currently, they are collaborating with school administration on an irrigation system, which will be set up according to the watering needs of the plants. The ambassadors will upkeep the green space during the school year, and throughout the summer, the Environmental Club will take over with plant care.