Pests & Beneficials Run Free at Atwater Elementary

This week at Atwater Elementary, we went back to basics. We just saw how the human world decides our ultimate American competition with the election¬†process, so I wanted to delve into all of the microscopic competitions playing out in our very own garden. These photos show beautiful, bountiful examples of vibrant greenery – right? In fact, they’re perfect examples of countless tiny battles being fought, by bacteria in our healthy living soil, and by insects above and below the soil.


Alright, so that’s a little dramatic. It’s pretty peaceful.



Regardless, the students still got to learn the most common garden insects, and identified if they were pests or beneficials based on their behaviors. Gardeners learned that while some of these insects do good on our behalf, they don’t always win. The garden is a lively ecosystem that alternatively benefits both friends and foes, and it is our job to give our insect friends as much support as possible. We saw this balance in real time as the students got to play “Friends & Foes,” a game of freeze-tag.

At the ends, students got to snack on some delicious herb-flavored water, hydrating post-tag with some basil and mint.

Well played, gardeners, and I’ll see you next week!

-Ranger Natalie

Natalie Hodson

Natalie is an industrial designer with a passion for sustainability and building. She inherited her mother’s green thumb, and was fascinated with plants from a young age, spending most of her childhood wandering around the woods in Northeastern Ohio. Now, Natalie loves to spend her time wandering around national parks, trying new foods, and building things. She graduated in 2014 from the Rhode Island School of Design and has lived¬†in LA ever since.