OKC Living Classroom Grant Program

OKC Living Classroom Grant Program


The monarch butterfly population has dropped by over 80% in the last 20 years. The main reason for this is habitat loss throughout the monarch’s migration and breeding range. Migrating monarchs funnel through Oklahoma in the spring and fall. Thus, creating and protecting monarch habitat in Oklahoma is critical for this iconic butterfly’s survival.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in partnership with the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, and National Wildlife Federation (NWF), seeks to increase habitat for monarchs and other pollinators by providing grants to Oklahoma City metro area schools to create monarch gardens. The gardens will include monarch host plants (milkweed) and nectar plants to provide a food source for monarchs along a vital part of their migration pathway.

Selected schools will receive the following:

  1. Two professional development opportunities for teachers in July and August 2023
  2. Awards of up to $1500 each to purchase garden supplies
  3. National Wildlife Federation’s Monarch Mission Curriculum

To apply for this grant, schools must agree to do the following:

  • Maintain and commit resources to the garden for at least 3 years.
  • Dedicate a minimum of 100 square feet, of planted space (not including pathways or other non-plant features), on school grounds to create monarch habitat that also serves as an outdoor classroom.
  • Include native milkweed and nectar plants that attract monarchs in the garden.
  • Plant less than 25% of the garden in containers. Planting in the ground or in raised beds is strongly preferred to ensure the garden’s longevity.
  • Install the garden by November 1, 2023
  • Prevent use of herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides on or near the garden.
  • Provide a letter committing support for the garden, signed by the principal, and presented on school letterhead.
  • Form a team of three teachers to plan, install and maintain the garden and to develop educational projects involving the garden.
  • Send at least one teacher from the monarch garden team to Monarch Mission curriculum training on Saturday, July 15, 2023 and Saturday, August 19, 2023. The grant award will be rescinded if at least one teacher from the school does not attend each of the two training sessions. A stipend of $100 will be paid to each teacher who attends the curriculum training, for a total of $200 per teacher for attending two training sessions. A maximum of three teachers from each school can attend each training.
  • Complete teacher-focused evaluations before and after the curriculum training sessions and after the garden is installed.
  • Complete student-focused evaluations before and after the garden is installed. Provide evaluation results to Emily Geest, Postdoctoral Fellow at OKC Zoo. Instructions for the student evaluations will be provided in the curriculum training sessions.
  • Register the garden on and, after it is installed.

Eligible Applicants: 

Public, private, and charter K-12 schools in the Oklahoma City metro area are eligible to apply. This includes schools in the following areas Oklahoma City, Edmond, Yukon, Mustang, Moore, Midwest City, Del City, Norman, Bethany, Piedmont, Deer Creek, Choctaw, and Warr Acres.

Application Guidelines:

  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • A letter committing support for the garden, signed by the principal, and presented on school letterhead must be submitted with the application.
  • Responses must be typed in the application form.
  • Applications will be evaluated and selected for funding by a committee. Successful applications will include: clearly explained goals and measurable outcomes, a clear understanding of the implications of managing a garden at a school site, a plan to involve many students in learning opportunities provided by the garden, connection between educational projects planned for the garden and Oklahoma Academic Standards, and a clear timeline for project activities.
  • Applications must be submitted through the OKC Zoo’s website.
  • Applications must be submitted by 5:00 PM April 30, 2023.

Eligible Costs:

Funding may be requested for the following: plants (not seeds), mulch, soil, lumber and hardware for raised beds, gardening tools, gloves, pathway materials, and signage.

Award Amount:

The maximum award amount is $1500. Grants will be awarded as a check made payable to the school or to the school’s identified non-profit support organization such as a parent-teacher association.

Project Timeline:

January 2023 – Application period opens

April 30, 2023 – Application due, including principal’s signed letter of support

June 1, 2023 – Award notifications sent to lead teacher

June 30, 2023 – Checks sent to schools

July 15, 2023 – 1st curriculum training provided

August 19, 2023 – 2nd curriculum training provided

November 1, 2023 – Garden must be installed

June 30, 2024 – Project report due, including photos, receipts, and 3 student work samples

Reporting Requirement:

A final report, including photos, receipts, a summary explaining how funds were used, and 3 student work samples, is required. Instructions will be provided to grant award recipients.

Receipts Required:

Successful grant recipients shall submit by June 30, 2024 receipts substantiating all eligible purchases made with grant funds.  Any unused grant funds, including any ineligible purchases which cannot be verified with a receipt, shall be repaid to the Oklahoma City Zoo.


Successful grant recipients are required to acknowledge the funding source, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in any printed materials or public announcements, such as press releases and website posts, about the garden.

Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative:

The Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative’s (OMPC) mission is to educate, engage, and support Oklahomans in the creation, protection and enhancement of suitable habitat (including milkweed and nectar sources) for monarchs and pollinators throughout Oklahoma. The OMPC was formed in 2016 by over 40 Oklahoma volunteer individuals, agencies and non-profit organizations with aligned missions. A steering committee was formed and they wrote a statewide monarch conservation action plan. This monarch garden school grant program supports one of the conservation plan’s objectives. In 2018, OMPC launched Okies for Monarchs, a statewide public awareness campaign, which includes the Okies for Monarchs website


Applications are to be sent via email to Dr. Emily Geest,, by 5:00 PM on April 30, 2023.


Garden Design Examples

Below are two examples of garden designs that have a little over 100 square feet of planted space. These designs are provided as examples to help you decide where and how to plant your garden. Larger gardens and other designs are encouraged. In the first curriculum training, we will discuss garden design and provide guidance for planning your garden. So, your design does not have to be determined as part of the application process.



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