San Antonio Magazine for Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, Lincoln Heights, Terrell Heights, Northwood and Oak Park

Saint Mary’s Hall Embraces Biodiversity and Outdoor Education with Second Major Planting Event

SMH Biodiversity 1


In a significant stride towards enhancing outdoor education and sustainability, the second major event funded by the SAWD Grants occurred last spring, marking another milestone in our School’s ongoing environmental initiatives. This year’s events focused on Outdoor Education, Increasing Biodiversity, Restoring Native Habitats, Community Gardening, and fostering Collaboration Across disciplines and divisions.


Transforming the Campus Landscape

The project kicked off in the Fall, with students seeding various campus areas with native Texas prairie grasses and wildflowers. These efforts aimed at soil restoration, improving biodiversity, mitigating the impacts of invasive species, and creating pollinator gardens. The transition from the initial planting in Fall to the flourishing growth in Spring showcases the transformative impact of these initiatives, as evidenced by the before-and-after pictures provided.


Acknowledging the Champions Behind the Project

The success of this event is a testament to the collaborative spirit and hard work of numerous individuals. Form 5 instructors Jane Viccellio, Rachel Boster, and Kimberly Scott were instrumental in initiating these annual Planting Day events, inspiring a collective effort across the campus.


Special thanks go out to:

1. Form 5 students: Their remarkable effort in assisting younger students and managing various tasks, including invasive plant removal and soil preparation.

2. Form K-4 instructors and staff: For maintaining order and ensuring safety amid the bustling activities.

3. Administrative team members: Khristi Bates, Len Miller, Liz Stockdale, Sarah Visagie, Jim Bob Womack, Nancy Lee Archer, Marcos Dodd, Mary Burch, and Angela Rabke, whose support was crucial.


Material and Financial Support

The event also benefited from substantial material and financial contributions:

Adkins Materials: Thanks to Shelly Friesenhahn.

SMH alum Mary Elizabeth Heard: For supporting plant and seed purchases.

Josie Seeligson: For contributing additional succulents.


Special Recognition

Several individuals and teams deserve special recognition:

Dom Smith, Brendan Sheehan, and the entire SMH Heroes Team: For their cleanup efforts.

Jose Rosas and Juan Jimenez: For handling tasks too hazardous for students.

Calvin Hadden: For repairing and replacing sprinkler systems.

Brendan Sheehan: For his invaluable equipment skills and consistent support.

Dom Smith: For his continuous insight, knowledge, and time.


Botany Brain Trust

A heartfelt thanks to the SMH Botany Brain Trust – Patti Nicoll, Kristen Polito, Jacob Knabe, Matt Montez, and Dom Smith. Their expertise in trees, grasses, wildflowers, landscape design, and more was crucial to the project’s success.


Looking Ahead

This event exemplifies the power of community collaboration and dedication to environmental stewardship, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable campus. As the campus community enjoys these improved greenspaces, plans for the next project are already underway. The upcoming Tree Planting Day, courtesy of SAPRD, promises to be another exciting venture. Details will be shared as soon as they are available.


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