The writing’s on the wall: a photo of the official certificate in the Clifford School office
We are absolutely thrilled to report this exciting news — in case you haven’t heard by now!
Over a year after breaking ground, the Clifford School Watershed Sanctuary has officially been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The marshy area to the west of the Middle School lawn is better known to the Clifford community as the “Clifford Frog Pond,” home to a tiny native frog called Pseudacris sierrae, or the Pacific Chorus Frog.
Every year, the pond fills with tadpoles in the small amount of water — usually just a couple of inches — that accumulates during the rainy season, despite the severe drought hitting California right now.
This tiny native frog is called Pseudacris sierrae, or the Pacific Chorus Frog.
Dreaming Things Up & Making Things Happen
Thanks to the vision of Gwen Minor, Middle School teacher at Clifford School, students, teachers, and parents worked together to revitalize the Clifford Frog Pond in the upper yard as a respected habitat and learning environment. This huge project started during the 2012-2013 school year. The non-native pampas grasses were removed in December 2012. Then, with some fundraising, community support, and lots of hard work, the landscape plan was executed in March and April 2013.
Kudos to Clifford’s Middle School students for a thorough clean-up job of the area — removing all the garbage that had piled up.
On the fundraising side, we received a $3,000 grant from the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program.
Clifford students themselves raised close to a whopping $5,000 in a fun-filled fundraiser, complete with leap-frog contest and froggy green bake sale.
The pond habitat includes a redwood observation deck, a stepping stone walkway, and a small footbridge. The redwood observation deck next to the pond provides students a sturdy footing from which they can witness “real life science” as nature unfolds.
The stepping stone walkway has 12 concrete steps engraved with messages from the donors who helped sponsor the bridge. It leads to a small wooden bridge that serves both to provide an additional viewing spot for spotting tadpoles and other wildlife. A short wooden and cable fence protects the area.
Areas certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation provide for five basic needs: water, food, cover, a setting to raise young wildlife, and freedom from chemical treatments, such as pesticides. Having a Wildlife Habitat directly on the campus not only provides Clifford students with the opportunity to experience the amphibian life cycle, but also teaches students the importance of ensuring healthy and safe environments for the animals and plants that surround us.
Here’s how the Frog Pond looked after the first rain of the season (December)–before construction began.
MASSIVE, MASSIVE THANKS
It takes a village: We are immensely grateful to the following people who made the Frog Pond happen. We thank you for your generosity with your donations, your time volunteering, your energy, and for seeing things through.
Gwen Minor: The Frog Pond project champion! Your vision, passion, planning, getting students excited and involved — your evangelism.
Lorraine Akemann: Your incredible management of the entire project, from start to finish, including your assistance with the removal of non-native pampas grasses from the area. This project could not have succeeded without your tireless efforts.
Jeff & Lisa Adasiewicz, Evolution Construction Inc: Your kindness with all your donated resources and huge amount of time “on the job,” including building the deck and installing the posts.
Sione Unga & Michelle Clark, Sione’s Concrete Construction: Your donation of all the poured concrete.
Rick Thall & family: Your valuable assistance in paying special attention to the environment and natural habitat, ensuring that the materials were frog-friendly, your planning and architectural expertise, your design for the redwood observation deck and surrounding landscape, along with the string wire fencing.
Lorraine Akemann & Lisa Adasiewicz, with help from Sione Unga, Michelle Clark, and family: These parents kindly organized a hand-print stepping stone fundraiser that drew family donors on a weekend.
Derek Overbey: For acting as technical liaison and for his assistance with the pampas grass removal.
Don Dias, RCSD Facilities, and Clifford Custodians: We appreciate your assistance along the way.
The Clifford School PTO supported this tremendous project every step of the way, and the PTO also paid for all the following: column bases for the fence and deck, cement, fence and deck hardware, lumber and related supplies for the observation deck, posts, labor costs for carpenters/crew and construction.
Lastly, thank you to a host of additional Clifford parents — not named here — who helped in all kinds of different ways: donating time, money, resources, expertise, writing & photography skills, and more.
Finally, for some wonderful photos, additional details about the phases of the project, and more, check out the blog, Clifford Frog Pond.