For the past year, three MISD campuses have been hard at work learning about pollinators, host and nectar plants and how this information can help protect the Monarch butterfly that was officially listed as endangered in July 2022. Monarchs are currently on the candidate waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a 2024 deadline to make a final listing determination.
Through funding from H-E-B and Central Market, Keep Mansfield Beautiful was one of 10 affiliate communities sharing $25,000 to support educational and programmatic opportunities relating to sustainability, recycling, litter prevention, beautification, and water conservation. Keep Mansfield Beautiful was awarded $3, 000 to fund butterfly gardens at Tarver-Rendon School of Agricultural Leadership, Donna Shepard Leadership Academy and Linda Jobe Middle schools.
The first garden was installed at Tarver Rendon Elementary. Students learned about butterfly lifecycles through a lesson and novel game lead by Tarrant Regional Water District and the Environmental Services and Water Utilities departments. Students were assigned roles as butterflies, host plants and nectar plants. The students had a great time becoming butterflies, collecting "nectar" and searching for milkweed "plants" to lay their "eggs". Afterwards, students planted new pollinator plants in their existing school garden.
The next garden installed was at Donna Shepard Intermediate. Students designed and built their own unique butterfly and plant shaped beds to enhance their existing garden. This was followed by a lesson on the importance of plant selection and proper maintenance for a successful butterfly garden. Using what they learned, students created their plant list and determined where to place plants in their new beds. Students planted the beds and the gardens will be maintained by new students each year.
The final garden was installed at Linda Jobe Middle School. Students started by creating a new raised bed specifically for attracting butterflies. A lesson was given to teach them the importance of proper plant selection, how to plant and how to maintain the new bed. Students installed the plants successfully and are excited to see how the garden develops over time.
All three schools will seek designation as official Monarch Waystations, and will continue to maintain and monitor their gardens as new students enter these programs each year.
Pollinators need our help. These students and their teachers are working to make a difference in their local environment. You can do the same. Constructing your own pollinator garden can be easy whether you have a large backyard or only a patio. By creating and maintaining a garden with the proper plants to provide food, as well as a place for these critical creatures to live, your garden will make a difference. If you would like to learn more about native and adaptive gardening, visit our 2023 Texas SmartScape Class Schedule.