The Monarchs Are Here!
Schools in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston have been working with the National Wildlife Federation’s Monarch Heroes program to create monarch gardens on their school campuses that provide the critical habitat components: native milkweed and nectar plants that the monarchs need as they migrate through Texas. The students’ hard work is paying off – monarchs are showing up in their gardens to refuel on nectar or lay eggs on their native milkweed so that the next generation can continue the migration north.
We are receiving almost daily communication and photos from teachers who are excited to share what is going on in their school gardens. Following is a glimpse into their world:
LANIER HIGH SCHOOL
Arianna Colasanti, Environmental Systems Teacher at Lanier High School in Austin reports that,”Spring has sprung in Lanier’s monarch gardens and things are really taking off! Our first flowers to bloom this year were our bluebonnets! The gardens have been certified as a Schoolyard Habitat Site and they are a favorite “hunting ground” for Lanier’s FFA Entomology Club to search for cool, new insects to I.D. The Green Teens Club is re-purposing some wooden pallets to be used in a bench that our AG Department’s welding class made. Lanier’s advanced construction class is building picnic tables for our outdoor classroom area. The ceramics and sculpture class has just started to fire the toad houses and puddling bowls they made for the garden. And our Eco-Action Team just got back from spending a glorious day exploring nature and learning about monarchs, milkweed and native plants at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.”
POE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Shawn Gray, 5th Grade Teacher at Poe Elementary in Houston ISD, recently wrote, “We have lots of caterpillars and adults flying around. We saw a wasp carry away a caterpillar and an anole eat one. I have brought seven large caterpillars in and two babies and at least one egg on the plants I brought in to feed them. This is what learning is all about and our students are eating it up!”
DURKEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Julieta Garza, 2nd Grade Teacher at Durkee Elementary in Houston ISD titled her recent email, The Monarchs are Back!! Her students discovered caterpillars on their milkweed and saw an adult feeding on a bluebonnet. At a recent STEM night at their school, Monarch Heroes students showcased their work and helped educate visitors about why the monarch is in decline and what can be done to help them.
HILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Sheryl Southwell, 2nd grade teacher at Hill Elementary in Austin ISD, sent photos of a recent garden workday at her school, and said, “My students are so excited about the monarchs that many have convinced their parents to plant butterfly gardens at home!”
Spring field trips are another favorite part of NWF’s Monarch Heroes Program. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a partner in our Monarch Heroes Program, students and teachers get to see beautiful examples of pollinator gardens and monarch habitat, and they also get a behind the “scenes” look at the LBJWC milkweed nursery.
CELEBRATING MONARCH HEROES
The National Wildlife Federation is really proud of our Monarch Heroes – students, teachers and community members alike – and each year we celebrate their work through a student showcase and recognition event for each district. Students will showcase their work to the general public and receive recognition from National Wildlife Federation at these upcoming events – we hope you can join us to celebrate these Monarch Heroes!
Dallas Fair Park, Earth Day Texas event, April 21-23. Our Dallas Monarch Heroes schools will showcase their work next to the National Wildlife Federation Booth in the Pollinator Bonanza area, adjacent to the Sammons Butterfly House in Fair Park, near the corner of MLK, Jr., Blvd. and 2nd street.
Austin, Saturday May 6th 10am-12pm at the Discovery Hill Outdoor Learning Center – Science and Health Resource Center, Austin ISD (305 N Bluff Dr, Austin, TX 78745). Monarch Heroes Spring Fun and Recognition Event held in partnership with the Austin Independent School District.
San Antonio, Monday May 15th 5:30pm-7:00pm at EcoCentro (1802 N Main Ave, San Antonio, TX 78212). We are partnering with EcoRise on our first end of year Student Sustainability Showcase.