Butterfly Sanctuary: Students at Nisswa Primary School help plant pollinator garden

This may have been the case on Thursday, May 13 at Nisswa Primary School, when first and second graders helped plant a pollinator garden in a protected school yard.

While having fun patting milkweeds floating in the air, drawing a butterfly, playing a game of butterflies and planting native plants, the young students discovered monarch butterflies and their habitat.

The biggest course organizer Alicia Green wanted to pass on was the importance of providing this habitat to stimulate a dwindling monarch butterfly population.

“Monarch butterflies are on the decline. Pollinators generally are too,” Green said, citing habitat loss and dangerous pesticides as the reasons.

Its goal is to educate people about monarchs and their needs to help bring back the population.

Mason Green, 14, shares a lesson on milkweed with students in Nisswa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The students took home their own milkweed seeds to plant.  Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

Mason Green, 14, shares a lesson on milkweed with students in Nisswa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The students took home their own milkweed seeds to plant. Nancy Vogt / Echo JournalNancy Vogt / Echo Journal

“We think it would be great if we could create something where we could inspire kids and other people to create them on their own,” Green said of the Pollinator Garden.

Two of these gardens are underway in Nisswa – at the school and at the Lutheran Church of the Cross – and a third is planned at Nisswa Lake Park. The hope is to establish 25 pollinator gardens within a 30 mile radius of Brainerd.

Paula West, who sits on the Nisswa Park Commission, and Laura Raedeke, with the Lutheran Church’s Creation Care Team, are excited about the partnerships to plant pollinator gardens.

The Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District offered a cost-shared grant for butterfly and pollinator demonstration plots and got Conservation Corps teams to do the hard work on May 13 on church and school sites.

The church plot is right next to the cycle path on County Road 13, where many people will be able to see it and learn about the importance of pollinators, Raedeke said. Each garden will also include educational panels.

The Nisswa School PTO and the Nisswa Park Commission top the costs, and the church received an Eco Faith Network grant from the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

They also praised Green, who, along with West, was also on the church’s creation care team.

“She is passionate about saving our beloved and vital pollinators,” Raedeke said.

Pollinators include bees, butterflies, birds, bats, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and small mammals that visit flowers to drink nectar or feed on pollen and carry them. pollen grains as they move from place to place.

Green worried about the monarch butterfly population when she noticed that they were not seeing as many as they once had.

“They found some, and her kids were delighted to see the caterpillars turn from chrysalis to monarchs,” West said.

Bella Oscarson, with the Conservation Corps in Grand Rapids, helps a student at Nisswa School pound a stake to hold a mat in place that will keep weeds from growing in the pollinator garden.  Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)

Bella Oscarson, with the Conservation Corps in Grand Rapids, helps a student at Nisswa School pound a stake to hold a mat in place that will keep weeds from growing in the pollinator garden. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)

Raedeke explained that a pollinator garden contains the types of plants that butterflies need to reproduce and feed. Milkweed is especially essential as it is the only plant that monarchs will use to lay eggs, although they will eat other native plants.

“Bees and other insects carry pollen from plant to plant, which makes them grow,” West said.

Raedeke emphasized the importance of authentic native plants over hybrid plants and that plants are not contaminated with neonicotinoids. They used grants to purchase native plants from Prairie Restoration in Princeton for the 100 square foot garden plots.

West and Raedeke hope that when Nisswa’s first three pollinator gardens are established, they can recruit other schools, churches and park councils to plant theirs.

The students at Nisswa School had a great day helping to create their garden. Green’s three children – Mason, 14; Macayla, 10 years old; and Mia, 8 – helped out at three outdoor education stations that students rotated through.

The students each brought milkweed seeds home to plant in their own efforts to attract monarch butterflies.

Macayla Green, 10, explains the parts of a butterfly as students at Nisswa School draw the picture.  Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)

Macayla Green, 10, explains the parts of a butterfly as students at Nisswa School draw the picture. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal (May 2021)

Nancy Vogt can be reached at 218-855-5877 or at [email protected] Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.




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