Yamaha establishes community pollinator garden with the assistance of Welch Elementary Students
Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Company in Newnan is committed to inspiring the love of the outdoors, sustaining the natural environment and ecosystems, and supporting local education initiatives.
A recent event at the Yamaha facility grounds allowed the company to combine all these worthwhile endeavors.
Students from the Kiwanis Kids (K-Kids) program at Welch Elementary School in Newnan paid a visit to take part in planting a pollinator garden. It was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities while getting away from the classroom and enjoying outdoor life.
“The kids are going to walk away with a seed packet, a pair of gardening gloves, and a small shovel,” said Yamaha spokesman Jason Broshear. “The point is to give them a lesson that supplements what they’re learning in the classroom that they can then apply in their own backyards.”
Yamaha officials had wanted for some time to have their property evaluated for biodiversity purposes, so they brought in the Maine-based consulting firm Woodard and Curran. One of the recommendations received from that study was a pollinator garden. It was about the same time that Mary Thompson, a teacher at Welch known affectionately as “Coach T,” told Broshear she was looking for a community service project for her K-Kids group. It was a natural fit.
“I have a great working relationship with Jason and the people at Yamaha. They’ve been very, very beneficial in helping our school,” said Thompson, referring to her previous post at Ruth Hill Elementary before coming to Welch this year.
A pollinator garden is a type of garden designed to grow specific nectar- and pollen-producing plants in a way that attracts pollinating insects. As Broshear pointed out, it is an important habitat to cultivate in areas that are prone to be negatively impacted by development.
“We're planting actual plants, so they'll get established in the fall and then by spring and early summer we're hoping that the area will be in full bloom and then a couple years down the road it'll probably be really mature,” he said.
Raina Singleton, an ecologist for Woodard and Curran, participated in the survey of the property and later was tasked with giving the students a few minutes of basic instruction before they started getting their hands in the dirt.
“I think in this age and time, a lot of people are disconnected from the outdoor environment, and we spend a lot of time on our computers and interacting through our devices,” said Singleton. “And a lot of people don't have much experience doing things outdoors. Pollinator plantings, like any that use native or non-traditional plants, can be more intricate than one might imagine. There is more to it than just throwing out some seeds and waiting for them to grow,” Singleton said.
But the young students were excited to get involved, which thrilled Thompson when she spoke about it during the actual planting. “They are such leaders,” she said of this year’s K-Kids group. “This is probably the most phenomenal group I’ve had of leaders and servants. Look at them digging over here. I’m just excited to see that they have a heart for service, and they are so excited to do this for our community as well as our partners at Yamaha.”
Beau Stapleton, student president of K-Kids, was asked what he thought about the pollinator garden. He said, “I think it would be inspired for other K-Kids and people to do the same too. And it’s helping the environment.” He enjoyed taking part in his corner of the garden. “So far I’ve been working on the back one near the bush and helping others a little [with planting],” he said.
From Yamaha’s perspective, this project is just one part of an effort to get all of the company’s manufacturing sites in North America on track for carbon neutrality by 2035. That includes making equipment more energy-efficient and installing on-site solar to generate CO2-free electricity. But this garden will be something the Yamaha employees in Newnan can enjoy every day.
“We're going to put up some signage with a plaque that explains what it is and why we're doing it,” he said. “Hopefully we will expand the plaques across the walking path just to educate and market to our employees what we're doing to give back to the community and the environment.”
And the activity will not be lost on the elementary students.
“This is where the learning happens. Hands-on learning is so important, and doing real-world extension is where it’s at,” said Thompson. “It’s not just the books, but it is talking to professionals, talking to people, having relationships, and working together and getting out there and doing it. That’s how they learn best.”
Yamaha Motor Manufacturing (YMMC) employs more than 2,200 people from across metro Atlanta to design and assemble recreational vehicles at its Newnan manufacturing facilities. All of the world’s Yamaha golf cars, WaveRunners and Side-by-Sides, and most of the ATVs are manufactured at the plant in Coweta County. Yamaha is currently hiring many professionals and skilled labor team members. Details are at yamahajobs.com.