Monday, May 21, 2018

Cruising Down the Monarch Highway

Thanks to the hard work of a passionate PTO member and parent, the butterfly garden at Hallie's elementary school has been designated as a registered Monarch Waystation.

Created specifically to help support and sustain the monarch population, waystations are strategically positioned along the butterflies' migratory route between Mexico and Canada. The Brazos Valley falls along this "monarch highway", making College Station the perfect place for a waystation that offers monarchs access to milkweed plants to produce offspring and nectar flowers for sustenance.

When Will started kindergarten, the butterfly garden at his elementary school was a beautiful and inviting outdoor space. But when the woman who lovingly tended the garden fell ill a few years ago, the flowers died, the weeds took over, and the leaves piled up.

So this year, Jessica - a monarch enthusiast and the PTO member and parent I mentioned above - decided to start a garden club at school. Hallie joined immediately, and throughout the year has benefitted, along with the other club members, from Jessica's knowledge about the monarch lifecycle, monarch migration, conservation, species preservation, and gardening. Under Jessica's supervision the kids have worked hard pulling weeds, raking leaves, planting flowers (including the necessary milkweed and nectar plants), and caring for the garden. And with Jessica as a guide, they learned how to foster caterpillars in order to release the monarch butterflies back into the garden where they were born...which they eagerly did two weeks ago during the official waystation dedication ceremony.

The academic learning taking place at the kids' elementary school has impressed me since the day Will first walked through the doors six year ago. But the arts and extracurricular learning taking place after hours - running, chess, student council, gardening (and those are just the four Hallie participates in) - is nearly as impressive. Thanks to the generous adults who coordinate these programs, Hallie improved her physical endurance and strength, her problem-solving skills and creativity, and her leadership skills. Oh, thanks to Jessica, she proudly had a hand in helping save a species.
A few seconds of one of the monarch releases during the dedication.

I wrote briefly about Hallie's first caterpillar baby and monarch release here.
I wrote about a somewhat frightening experience my mom and I had with a butterfly here.
And to wrap things up, here's my favorite of the butterfly pictures I've taken:

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