For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 22, 2008
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a First Bloom Event
Charlestown Navy Yard
2:17 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Lucy. That was a very, very nice introduction. Thanks a lot. I also want to acknowledge the Mayor, Mayor Menino. Thank you very, very much for joining us today. Representative Brad Jones, thank you for coming. Terry Savage, the Superintendent here, thank you very much. And Commander Bullard, the Commander of the U.S.S. Constitution, thank you for letting us be here in the old Commandant's House. It's great to get to be here. And Vin Cipolla, who is the National Park Foundation Board Chairman, thank you for everything you do.
But I'm most excited to be here with the boys and girls who are here from school, Warren Prescott School, or from the Boston Boys and Girls Club. It's fun to get to be with you and get to see you and hear you tell me about First Bloom and the different ways you've gotten your hands dirty. And that's part of the point of First Bloom -- something that kids can do that they'll like to do, but also will teach you a lot about how you can take care of your own community and our whole country by doing the things like composting or planting native plants. So thank you all for joining us today.
Boston's national parks show the diversity of America's park systems, which includes both the natural landscapes, like Yosemite, where Lucy said she hiked and where I've hiked before, or the Grand Canyon, but also our very important historic sites. And of course there are a number of very important historic sites here at one of the Boston -- at the Boston national parks.
Here at Charlestown Navy Yard, the Park Service preserves the birthplace of more than 200 United States warships -- including the U.S.S Constitution. This July 3rd, a new visitor center will open here to help interpret the history of the Boston -- Charlestown Naval Yard.
The grounds of the Charlestown Navy Yard recreate a landscape that could have existed more than 200 years ago. The tulip tree that we saw outside towering over the Commandant's House has shaded this yard through times of peace and war. And park experts are bringing in American elms and other historic plants to restore the flora that was enjoyed by the shipbuilders who were here years ago.
The National Park Foundation's First Bloom program is giving children a personal stake in parks like the Charlestown Navy Yard. This new program was announced last October, 2007, and already it's sprung to life in five pilot cities around the United States.
In New York City, students have designed gardens in Battery Park. In Philadelphia, young people have planted more than 80 native perennials near the site of the First Continental Congress. And in Washington, D.C., students recently planted some 200 Black-eyed Susan plants in the LBJ Memorial.
Today I'm pleased to announce that Boston will become the site of the first metro-wide First Bloom program in the nation. The city of Boston has a strong commitment to supporting its parks and getting kids involved in their stewardship. First Bloom will add to these efforts by bringing together the national parks and youth organizations across Boston to help children learn more about the importance of native species and how they can preserve their public lands.
Students here from Warren Prescott School and Boston Boys and Girls Club got a sneak preview of the First Bloom program today. You learned to compost trash like banana peels and paper bags to make soil for gardens. You shook a shrub -- that's one of the really fun things about First Bloom -- to see what would fall out, and what did fall out?
CHILDREN: An earwig.
MRS. BUSH: They found an earwig, and they actually identified the earwig. What did you all find?
CHILDREN: A yellow leaf.
MRS. BUSH: She found a beautiful yellow leaf that she really liked.
What did you find?
CHILDREN: A cricket.
MRS. BUSH: A cricket, good.
CHILDREN: Spiders and different kinds of leaves.
MRS. BUSH: Spiders and different kinds of leaves. So you found seeds, insects -- all the things that might live inside a plant. And when the wind blows, a lot of times, those things -- including the pollen from the flowers of the plants, also blow off.
And you added your own special touch to Charleston Navy Yard's landscape by planting what? Who can say it? It's hard.
MRS. BUSH: Echinacea, that's right. And what is Echinacea?
MRS. BUSH: And?
CHILDREN: And it grows fast.
MRS. BUSH: And it grows fast. And what else about it?
MRS. BUSH: Exactly, but we weren't planting these for medicinal purposes though, were we? No. But what else? It's native. It's a native plant, native to this area. That means it was here forever. It's a native plant, and what does it attract?
CHILDREN: Butterflies and bees.
MRS. BUSH: Butterflies and bees. So that's great to have those in your garden.
So you planted the Echinacea and the roses in what was historically the Commandant's garden. And so these have been gardens that have been here for a long time, as long as the Commandant's House has been here. So you had a historical purpose as well as an environmental purpose, didn't you, by planting those.
The First Bloom program extends beyond park boundaries to encourage responsible stewardship in students' own backyards. And are you all going to take home some Echinacea seeds in a cup?
MRS. BUSH: So you can plant those in your own community or your own garden? Good, great.
First Bloom's projects take on a special significance this month, which is Great Outdoors Month. Thanks to the National Park Foundation for your work to help young people fall in love with outdoor activities. And thanks especially to all of the children who are here today for planting something beautiful in a historic garden.
Thank you all very much, and congratulations to Boston. (Applause.)
END 2:24 P.M. EDT