Bee City USA Visits Georgia, Part II: Norcross

As coordinator of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA, I had the privilege of visiting some of our affiliate cities and campuses in northern Georgia in October. I am sharing highlights of the trip over the next few blog posts.

Norcross, Georgia

In my first year coordinating Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA, I have had the honor of getting to know a number of outstanding community leaders. Jacquelyn Morgan, Master Gardener, substitute teacher, and Norcross Bee City organizer is one of those. Jackie was kind enough to take my coworker Stefanie Steele and me on a three-stop tour of thoughtfully-designed, community-focused pollinator habitat sites in Norcross.

Thank you to all the hard-working staff and volunteers who took the time to show us around Norcross. We are so grateful for your good work!

Outdoor Classroom at Norcross Elementary School

Our first stop was at Norcross Elementary School, where Jackie works, to see an excellent model for an outdoor classroom with newly improved seating, raised beds and rain barrels, which Jackie documented in her fundraising blog post: Creative Fundraising in Norcross, Georgia.

We had the pleasure of meeting Principle Sutton, STEM teacher Ms. Petree, and staffer Mr. Kendrick, who along with Jackie have created a welcoming, well-designed outdoor pollinator-focused classroom.

A row of gray outdoor desks face a row of yellow raised garden beds.
A view of the inviting outdoor classroom. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A group of four people smile looking up at the camera, with green plants in the background.
Norcross Elementary School staff Jackie Morgan and Mr. Kendrick, with Xerces staff Stefanie Steele and Laura Rost. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Four people stand in circle talking, wearing blue, black, and grey clothes with a red brick building in background.
Xerces staffer Stefanie Steele shares information from our “Nesting & Overwintering Habitat: for Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects” factsheet. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A woman in gray and tan clothes adjusts a gray bench that converts to a outdoor desk, with yellow raised garden beds in the background.
Teacher Ms. Petree demonstrates the desks that convert to benches. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Overhead shot of six painted stepping stones, set in grass.
Lovely painted stepping stones enliven the space between raised garden beds. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A gray cinder block attaches yellow garden bed boards,
A closeup of the tidy cinder block connectors that hold the raised garden beds together. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Yellow flowers with brown centers with a gray cloudy sky in the background.
A few brown eyed susans were still blooming. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Six people stand in an office setting in front of a yellow and blue emblem on the carpet in front of them, which reads "Norcross Elementary".
Thank you to all the Norcross Elementary school staff to welcomed us! We really enjoyed learning more about your engaging outdoor classroom and pollinator habitat. (Credit: Jackie Morgan)
 
Summerour Outdoor Learning Center at Summerour Middle School

Our second stop brought us to Summerour Middle School where we met up with Tixie Fowler and Marianna Vazquez. At Summerour they have more than a single outdoor classroom—they have an extensive Outdoor Learning Center, created along the back of the property and incorporating parts of the adjacent woodlands.

 
Four people stand smiling holding two habitat signs, under a purple banner that reads "Outdoor Learning Center."
Xerces staff Laura Rost and Stefanie Steele with the Summerour garden staff, Marianna Vazquez and Tixie Fowler. (Credit: Jackie Morgan)
Satellite view of a parking lot with a crescent-shaped landscaped border, with a green forest beyond.
An eagle’s eye view of the garden, created beside the parking lot and track, and extending into the woodland. (Credit: Google Maps)
Two people face away from camera, looking at abundance pollinator habitat with pink and yellow flowers.
Tixie and Marianna show us the late-season pollinator habit, which includes goldenrod, zinnia, and blue mistflower. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Outdoor benches face a black chalkboard, painted colorful signs on posts surround the space that say "I am...Creative, Joyful, Immersive...
One of the Summerour outdoor classroom spaces, each with its own character. This one features inspirational signs. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A circle of benches in a green forest with yellow and brown leaves all over the ground.
Forests are pollinator habitat too! We meandered down the trails to an outdoor classroom tucked back in the trees. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A woman in a peach colored top gestures with a thin long stick, pointing at a variety of trees and shrubs.
So much to see! Tixie points out native plants and edible plants framing the school’s running track. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Green, lantern-shaped tomatillo fruits on the plant with a red school building in the background.
Green, lantern-shaped tomatillos fruiting in the garden. The garden combines food plants and pollinator habitat to demonstrate the connections between the two. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A clear empty monarch cocoon with four fingers behind it.
Evidence of monarch visitors were evident throughout the garden. This is the dried case of a chrysalis—one more monarch on its way to Mexico! (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A small Bee City sign reading "Pollinator-Friendly Garden."
A Bee City sign reading “Pollinator-Friendly Garden.” (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Pollinator Habitat at Norcross City Hall

Our final stop in Norcross was at city hall, where we had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Craig Newton and a number of city staffers, and enjoyed a tour of their recently planted pollinator habitat in front of their city hall.

A circle of people listen to a speaker on a sunny day. A green yard sign in the middle of the group reads "Sustainability in Progress".
Tixie Fowler speaks to the group. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A mulched, planted area in a green lawn, next to a parking lot with a blue sky overhead.
Pollinator plants are taking root in the new educational pollinator garden. Signs read “Sustainability in Progress” and “Pollinator Garden in Progress.” (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
A shiny chrome sculpture of a large wasp on a sunny day. (Credit: Laura Rost)
“Predator” a recycled metal wasp sculpture created by Richard Sells will be at the center of the pollinator habitat. “ReImagine: Sculptures that Redefine Recycling” are the sculptures whose theme melds art with recycling and environmental awareness. The pieces celebrate creative recycling. (Credit: Xerces Society / Laura Rost)
Nine people face the camera smiling, with a orange/yellow sign reading "Pollinator Garden in Progress."
It was an honor visit Norcross and meet a community of people working together to protect pollinators. (Credit: Jackie Morgan)

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