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Butterflies invited to GCMS

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By Camille McClanahan

If you can’t take the kids to the wetlands; just take the wetlands to the kids.

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That is what Grant County Extension Assistant Lamar Fowler decided to do when extended periods of rain kept Grant County Middle School students from going on site to the official ‘wetlands,’ dedicated last year and located behind the school.

“I can’t even believe how much work and effort he put into making that happen,” said Leigh Simpson, Grant County Middle School, eighth grade science teacher. “He went above and beyond what I expected him to do.”

Fowler utilized the benefit of a gutter, which was just letting water flow and erode the area. He re-routed the flow of the rainwater by digging a trench and connecting a drainage pipe to the gutter. This will allow water to flow through the garden without causing erosion.

“This is part of the project for the Outdoor Environmental Classroom,” Fowler said. “With all the wet weather it was very hard to have classes at the wetlands, so we came up with this idea of putting a butterfly garden at GCMS.”

After adding top soil, several science and social studies classes worked together to make the garden. The Grant County Soil Conservation District and Rocky Ridge Garden Center provided funds and materials for the project. The students planted about 13 varieties of plants known to attract butterflies, including, Butterfly Bush, Joe-pye weed, dill, parsley, goldenrod, red-twigged dogwood, mistflower and little bluestem.

The garden includes six bricks from the old Mt. Zion Bank, placed strategically as warm spots for the butterflies to rest.

“We learned how to make our own compost,” said student Michaela Goderwis. “I also learned that if you aren’t easy with the plants, they fall apart.”

Goderwis said she enjoyed the entire experience and the students learned many aspects of conservation and gardening.

“They learned what causes erosion, drainage systems, what is top soil and the life cycle of butterflies,” Fowler said. “Also, why the specific plants, bricks and drainage are necessary to a butterfly garden.”

Now the students just need some patience as they tend their garden, wait and watch for the butterflies to arrive.