- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska and Iowa students are joining their peers and volunteers around the nation in planting milkweed plants to help attract monarch butterflies.

Around 30 students and 10 adults last week planted the milkweed, which provides the only food for newly emerged butterfly larvae, behind St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, Nebraska. Another group of students and volunteers also recently planted milkweed at St. Albert School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The two schools were among 10 Catholic schools in the Midwest that received grants to start butterfly-friendly gardens from the National Catholic Education Association, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1duzlXq ) reported. The organization’s Monarch Butterfly Rescue Program is aimed at increasing the monarch population and bolstering student interest in science.

“It’s so meaningful for students to get outside the classroom and to be actively doing science and getting their hands dirty and getting that sparkle in their eyes,” said Kate Rezac, a third-grade teacher who is leading the St. Margaret Mary project.

Fourth-grade teacher Sara McColloch who is leading the St. Albert project said establishing their garden has been a community effort. She said students studied monarchs last fall, when a grandparent who has a butterfly garden brought in monarchs for them to observe and then release.

Gardeners at St. Margaret Mary plan to register with the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project to become citizen-scientists, collecting data about monarch eggs and larvae. Volunteers also plan to tag butterflies and submit information to the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch program, which tracks butterflies that migrate south each fall.

St. Albert is applying to become a certified Monarch Waystation through the Monarch Watch program. It would receive a sign to post information about the project.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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