Catalyst Academy, Connect Communities work together
Catalyst Academy Charter School in New London created a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat site with help from New London’s new Connect Communities Program.
NWF recognized Catalyst Academy’s new student-built garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife.
The space provides essential elements needed by all wildlife: natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young.
Jo Collar, lead advisor at Catalyst Academy, said her students built three raised flower and vegetable garden beds that will give them opportunities for hands-on learning and plant and animal observation.
“Our staff hopes to instill and nurture a strong sense of place and awareness of the ecology of our area and how humans affect and are affected by our natural environment,” Collar said. “Our students and staff have enjoyed redesigning the outdoor space around our school to make it more inviting to wildlife.”
Catalyst Academy worked closely all year with Deb Silvers, director of New London’s new Connect Communities program, to learn about native plants, water source and the wildlife the new habitat will attract.
New London was accepted with 17 other towns this year into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Connect Communities Program, an initiative launched in January 2014 to advance downtown and urban corridor revitalization efforts.
New London’s program is run by residents and the city serves as an advisory committee only.
“We are very grateful to our board, the businesses, city council and community members for the encouragement of support of phase one of the downtown mural project and the launch of our newly formed Connect Communities Program,” Silvers said. “This is a very exciting time and a committed effort to revitalize and draw upon our downtown area.”
Since Connect Communities’ inception, participating communities have reported adding 175 net new businesses and more than 500 jobs, as well as $30 million in private investment.
Besides continuing the NWF Certified Habitat Site, Silvers said New London’s Connect Communities Program will participate in beautification and business district revitalization efforts. They will collaborate on projects with the New London Chamber of Commerce and Wisconsin Department of Tourism.