The 13 newest homes at Bartram Trail were built by children, but the tenants won't notice.
With spacious 0.5-square-foot and 1-square-foot floor plans, cedar and cypress siding, and custom decor, the houses will become home sweet home for pairs of birds - bluebirds and wood ducks, to be exact.
Fourth- and fifth-grade pupils at Lewiston Elementary School have been studying area ecosystems. To bring that study to life, teachers teamed with the developers and managers of Bartram Trail, International Paper and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to build birdhouses Tuesday to be placed in the wildlife habitats along the golf course and in the neighborhood.
"We're using the environment and the idea of conservation to make the kids realize that nature is all around them," said Brett Cooper, a fifth-grade science teacher.
"(The students) finished studying about the ecosystems and animals around them," Cooper said. "A lot of kids that don't like science, they don't realize that with local science, the science is all around them."
The cedar for the blue bird houses and cypress for the duck houses were pre-cut and holes predrilled for safety, and students were supervised as they used cordless drills and screws to assemble the pieces. The children drew murals and even wrote messages on their houses, some reading: "Lucky ducks" and "Home sweet home."
"Maybe in the winter it won't be so cold (living in the houses), and in the winter they'll have a habitat," said Summer Costello, 10, a fourth-grader.
Khalil Stiger, 9, also a fourth-grader, said he and his classmates learned the types of habitat the birds prefer, their food sources, calls, predators and migratory patterns.
"We (also) learned about erosion and how the earth gets damaged when you cut down trees," said 9-year-old Taylor Birong, a fourth grader.
Ranger Bobby Timmerman, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, who taught the children about the birds, said that by spending the time with the pupils and building birdhouses the students were learning a necessary lesson about conservation and the importance of wildlife and natural resources.
"As fast as we are growing (in Columbia County), it's hurting the habitats," Timmerman said. "It's good the children are learning they can do something about the environment."
"The (Bartram Trail) golf course and the development are very conservation-oriented in design," said Jason Whinghter, who oversees new developments for Blanchard and Calhoun Realty.
He said the development was seeking certification as a conservation community through the National Audubon Society.
The neighborhood and golf course stretches across 900 acres of land off Columbia Road outside Grovetown.
Of that 900 acres, 200 acres have been set aside as greenspace, Whinghter said.
About 35 acres of the 120 acres of grass that make up the golf course are natural grasses that provide wildlife habitat, said Shane Schutte, the golf course's superintendent.
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