Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program

Wild Ones

Grant amount: US $100 - US $500

Deadline: Oct 15, 2018

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program provides small grants for youth-centered efforts to establish and maintain native plant landscape learning environments.

Would you like to:
  • Attract songbirds and butterflies to your school yard with wildflowers and native grasses.
  • Add opportunities for hands-on science in biology, ecology and earth science.
  • Reduce energy consumption and improve storm water management; enhance sustainability and green-school certification.
Teachers and students across the United States are expanding learning opportunities by enhancing their schoolyards with butterfly gardens, nature trails, prairies, woodland wildflower preserves, and similar projects. These projects enrich the learning environment and provide aesthetic and environmental benefits.

By planning, establishing and maintaining such projects, students learn valuable life skills, including patience and teamwork. They can engage parents and the wider community in a project they can point to with pride for years to come.

We offer assistance for all aspects of such projects. Cash grants under $500 are available for plants and seeds, and in-kind donations from Nursery Partners can help stretch these dollars. We can help you locate experts and information specific to your area—anywhere in the US. In the past decade, we’ve supported over a thousand such projects, and we can use this experience to help you.

How Your Project Can Qualify for Funding

We emphasize youth engagement because it is the single best predictor of project success. Children of any age can participate in visualizing and planning a project. And of course children of any age can prepare the soil and place plants or seeds. The participation will be different for very young children compared to youth in middle or high school. We will favor an application that shows children’s ideas, drawings and research rather than one that shows the polished work of adults. The engagement of students leads to learning, pride in the project, and continued efforts to establish and continue the project.

Second, we focus on projects with native plants: the foundation of a complex web of life that includes birds, beneficial insects, soil organisms and other creatures. Multiple native plant species provide food, shelter and other habitat services and make the project an interesting place. You can include edible plants if you choose those that are native to your area. If you need assistance with planning your project, perhaps one of our members can help you identify species that are appropriate to your site’s soil, sunlight and moisture conditions, so the plants will thrive. 

Our third essential criterion is a focus on hands-on educational activities. These can cover a wide range of subjects and activities – from biology and ecology to poetry and visual arts. Most successful projects incorporate multiple learning concepts and involve multiple teachers. We prefer to fund these projects. Depending on your situation, you may also find it useful to link your activities to state-mandated curricula.

Projects that meet these grant criteria can take many forms, depending on the specific site and the interests of the participating students. Here are some examples:

  • A wildflower garden featuring nectar and larval plants for butterflies and other pollinators
  • A grove of native shrubs and trees that provide food and shelter for songbirds
  • A wetland edge, perhaps part of a man-made stormwater detention basin or drainage channel, or on the bank of a natural pond or stream.
  • A xeric (dry) landscape featuring cacti, succulents and other plants that are native to the local area
  • A prairie restoration or meadow area
  • A nature trail through existing wildlife habitat
  • A woodland area managed with attention to woodland wildflowers or native shrubs
  • Any other format that excites your students and meets our criteria

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • You can apply for a grant if you are connected to a public, charter or private school.
  • You may also apply on behalf of a scout, 4-H or similar youth group, house of worship, summer camp, conservation district, library, nature center or other not-for-profit organization.
  • In cases where the applicant is not the landowner, (for example, a scout group doing a project at a library site) both organizations must endorse the application.
  • You can apply for grant for a project at the conceptual or groundbreaking stage.
  • You may also apply for a grant to expand or renovate an existing project.
  • Grant funds are for purchase of plants and seeds only.
    • If you need funding for signage, fencing, paths, etc. you must find other sources.
  • We target our schoolyard grants based on what we have seen works the best. We’re looking for projects that meet three essential criteria:
    • Youth engagement in planning and doing (age-appropriate)
    • Creation of an ecosystem community based on native plants
    • Focus on hands-on educational activities


  • Creativity in design is encouraged, but must show complete and thoughtful planning. 

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary