The wildlife habitat at Far Brook encompasses about two acres of land on the perimeter of the property. The habitat actually consists of two distinct ecosystems, a fresh water marsh and a mixed hardwood forest.
SCHOOLYARD WETLANDS HABITAT
As you walk the cedar mulch path that winds through the Wetlands Habitat, you will see typical wetlands plants, including marsh grass, skunk cabbage, and trout lilies. Frogs can be heard and seen, as well as many species of birds, chipmunks, squirrels, woodchucks, and deer. Mallard ducks are also often seen in the main portion of the marsh. There is a learning circle along this path with rectangular log seating, a wonderful spot to sit quietly and observe birds.
Millburn High School student Michael Langley constructed and installed fifteen different types of nesting boxes as his Eagle Scout project in 2008. The nesting boxes included ones for bats, wood ducks, finches, and robins. Students have observed birds using these boxes.
Beyond the marsh is the forest habitat which runs parallel to the sports field. Plants growing in the forest area include thistle, wild raspberry, tulip poplar, red and white oak, and mountain maple. Interesting species of fungi grow on the stumps of dead trees. Many species of small mammals can be seen here as well as deer.
The habitat thrills and educates Far Brook students and teachers on a daily basis. Each time we walk down the paths we see something new and exciting. We are extremely fortunate to have this special place right in our own backyard.
- The area was certified by the National Wildlife Federation as Schoolyard Habitat site #1531 in January of 2002.
- In 2012, students identified 40 animals species (including insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds), 49 species of plants (including trees, shrubs, and wildflowers), and 5 species of fungi.
- Students used a GPS system to map the area and create field guides.
- A concrete walkway leads to the first learning circle which contains “tree cookie” seating for about 25 students. This is a great place to have a lesson or class discussion or to have students record observations, sketch natural objects, or compose poetry.
- The habitat includes the Shakespeare Garden, planted by several Far Brook families which contained a variety of perennials, such as holly, rosemary, myrtle, and sage, that were mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Plant species have been preserved in temporary locations around campus while construction is underway for the new Science and Arts buildings. Once construction is completed, the Shakespeare Garden will be recreated as part of the planting plan for the new buildings.