First Bloom With the First Lady

Laura Bush introduces the First Bloom program in Dallas

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Williams Preparatory School in Dallas, Texas, was filled with bouquets of flowers native to Texas to welcome First Lady Laura Bush last week. Mrs. Bush visited the school to introduce the First Bloom program, sponsored by the National Parks Foundation. The program is designed to help children and adults increase their understanding and love of nature while protecting it and sharing in its beauty.

The students of Williams Prep greeted Mrs. Bush, the first Honorary Chair of the National Parks Foundation, with a lot of excitement. A park ranger and a student who had the honor of introducing her to his classmates accompanied the First Lady.

Mrs. Bush participated in special First Bloom activities with the students, including making pipe cleaner garden creatures, "shaking" a shrub to find out what is inside of it, and planting Texas flowers in compostable "cups," which means they can be mixed with soil and used as fertilizer.

Although the event was moved indoors because of rain, the enthusiasm stayed alive. Mrs. Bush talked with the children, asked them questions about their knowledge of the outdoors, and even taught them a few facts.

After the activities ended, the speeches began. Several adults and one Williams Prep student, Susy Briones, made short introduction remarks about First Bloom, our national parks, and Mrs. Bush. Finally, the First Lady walked onstage.

Mrs. Bush talked about her roots in Texas, and how she used to teach at a local elementary school in Dallas. She also said that she will soon be able to enjoy the Texas flowers in person, on a long-term basis.

"And I guess I can announce it in front of the press—that [when his term expires on January 20, 2009] President Bush and I will be moving back to Dallas, which is where we lived when he was elected Governor [in 1994]," Mrs. Bush said.

She went on to speak about how important our national parks are. Mrs. Bush said that she hikes in a national park every year. She also spoke about how First Bloom is helping our parks and our communities.

"First Bloom extends beyond park boundaries right into our own backyards," Mrs. Bush explained. "By bringing the values of conservation and good environmental stewardship to participants' backyards, the program teaches children, even those who don't live near a national park, to share in the ownership of these fabulous public spaces."

Many of the flowers planted during the First Lady's visit to Williams Prep will be transplanted in a new school garden designed by the students. Some will be planted in the First Bloom native plant gardens at former President Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historical Park in Austin.


Find out more about First Bloom at the National Parks Foundation website.


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  • Subjects:
    Social Studies, Environmental Conservation and Preservation, Earth Science, Real-World Science, Flowers

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