- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (AP) - The Butterfly Project took flight when East Allen Alternative School science teacher Jan Hipskind read a newspaper article about the plight of monarch butterflies. Then the idea came to her like a “little flutter of butterfly wings.

“It made me think, if we could do one little thing, maybe we could get milkweed plants for the monarchs.”

Students in her science class will tell you as the monarch’s habitat shrinks, so does the population of monarch butterflies, and the monarch is a pollinator. The only plant in the world out there for the monarch’s survival is milkweed, a common enough weed that has been disappearing with the use of herbicides, Hipskind said.

The monarch is in the process of being named to the endangered species list, Hipskind added.

More than two years ago, an Eagle Scout gave Hipskind a butterfly box to show the class. Butterfly boxes provide a safe place for any butterfly. When her husband, Pat, took a look at them, the concrete contractor offered to put together some kits.

The project, which just finished its second year, has taught students all sorts of skills besides basic insect biology.

Student Maddi Moore, 20, from Woodburn, said before the project she had no idea how important the monarch is. “I just thought a butterfly was a butterfly,” Moore said.

Students learned to plant, build, take photos, paint and nurture. They went on field trips to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and purchased larvae through the conservatory. They visited Fox Island where naturalist Jeff Ormiston passed on his enthusiasm for preserving the monarchs, along with some native plants.

As student Caitlin Lee said, “one butterfly can change everything.” It’s known as the butterfly effect. And as the class’s monarch butterflies went through the stages from egg to adult, students spread their wings just like their butterflies.

This year’s class of about 15 students built 20 butterfly boxes. On one of their outings, they visited preschool students at New Haven United Methodist Church and helped them paint the boxes. The students read the little ones “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” a well-known children’s book written by Eric Carle.

Seventeen boxes were donated to the church for adoption by church members and two boxes went home with staff. Student John Newhard who lives in the Leo-Cedarville area took one butterfly box home and installed it next to the family’s organic garden.

Last year, a butterfly box went home with Sandy Theisen-Mitchel, who works at the school and became the one who watered the outside habitat when school was out and filled in wherever she was needed.

Many students come to the school discouraged. Regular high school is too much for these kids with troubles, said Hipskind, who retired this year but will come back as a volunteer to continue the project. Newhard went from gaining three credits his first year to 27 the next, a lot of that credited to the butterfly project.

“We’re doing it to help out the butterflies,” Newhard said one recent sunny day in June standing outside the school and looking over the wildlife habitat he and others have created with native plants. “We’re also doing it to help out ourselves.”


Source: The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, https://bit.ly/28YsRj6


Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide