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Owens Corning helps local school with ‘spring makeover’

Written by Jordan Finney, Published by the Toledo Free Press  

Newly constructed pinecone bird feeders swung from the trees as Pickett Academy students painted fresh white lines for future foursquare games on the blacktop.

Students and staff partnered with about 65 employees from Owens Corning, a Toledo-based Fortune 500 company, to renovate the academy’s outdoor area on May 22 and 23.

Pickett Academy students work on their playground with the help of Owens Corning employees (not pictured) during a United Way of Greater Toledo Days of Caring event on May 23. Toledo Free Press Photo by Jordan Finney

“I do think it’s important to get the kids outdoors,” said Kylie Ernsthausen, Owens Corning’s director of the United Way of Greater Toledo May Days of Caring. “A lot of them are doing things they haven’t done before, like planting or helping put a bench together. This teaches them life skills that they haven’t been exposed to.”

By the end of the work project, students and volunteers from Owens Corning built an outdoor learning lab, bird sanctuary, weather station, butterfly garden and community garden.

A local senior center has volunteered to take care of the community garden. Ernsthausen said she hopes its vegetables and herbs will be donated to families who live nearby Pickett Academy.

In addition, Owens Corning employees said they plan to build a pavilion in the next month to complete Pickett Academy’s “spring makeover.”

“Pickett is fairly new, but there’s definitely improvements we can do to help the kids,” Ernsthausen said.

A Pickett Academy student touches an insect during a presentation by Jane Pearson, lead education outreach programmer at the Toledo Zoo, on May 23. Toledo Free Press photo by Jordan Finney

Students also said they enjoyed listening to Jane Pearson, lead education outreach programmer at the Toledo Zoo, give a presentation about insects on May 23.

Pearson talked to the class about insect anatomy while drawing a diagram of a butterfly on the board and fielding questions from eager kids. She also allowed students to touch live animals, including a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Days of Caring aims to improve communities by asking company employees from Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties to volunteer on projects together, according to Owens Corning.

“A lot of these schools are the gems of their community,” Ernhausten said. “Owens Corning has a long relationship with Pickett and we love working with the kids. These schools are definitely a source of pride for their neighborhoods and it’s fun to be a part of that.”