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Pollinator Garden in Detroit Provides Respite for Vacationing Butterflies

SOURCE: General Motors


Each fall the Monarch butterfly makes the 2,000 mile trek from its summer home in the Great Lakes area to its winter home near the Gulf of Mexico.

A tiring journey, for sure.

But thanks to the students from Clippert Academy in Detroit, and employees at ourRomulus (Mich.) Engine plant, the butterflies will have a nice place to rest before making the arduous journey south.

Last year, after attending a Rouge River water sampling event with some of her students and General Motors, Clippert Academy teacher Tracy Ortiz reached out to Marleen Bandy, an environmental engineer at Romulus Engine, to see if we could help her class start an environmental project.

The result was a 224-square foot raised bed pollinator garden on the grounds of the school that gave the students some basic ideas about construction and gardening, as well as an opportunity to employ classroom learnings in the field.

“This living classroom engages the students in learning through hands-on projects, investigations, and observations in addition to providing habitat for local wildlife,” said Ortiz.

This year, Bandy and Romulus Engine volunteers have returned, along with the next group of students, to add 192 square feet to the garden, with plans to expand it further next year.

“We brought some native species from our garden at Romulus Engine to get it started, but it’s the kids who are working hard, watering every day, to keep it thriving,” said Bandy.

Monarch Watch, an organization committed to the preservation of the Monarch butterfly, has certified the Clippert Academy garden as an official Monarch Waystation – a spot designated to provide the resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

“The students plan to participate in Monarch Watch’s tagging program and attempt to tag the butterflies as they prepare to make their trip south this year,” said Bandy.  “Recovered butterflies provide valuable information on migration pathways, weather influences on the migration, and survival rates.”

To prove that the garden is working, Bandy, along with some student citizen-scientists, will observe and record monarch sightings and map Monarch migration paths very soon.  “We can then share our field observations with other students in North America through Journey North to see population trends.”

As a participant in the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Wildlife at Work program, Romulus Engine goes above and beyond the call to help students, but it’s just another day in the life of Marleen Bandy.

“This is a great example of allowing kids to get out and experience nature, instead of just learning about it in a book,” said Bandy. “The ability to put your hands on a project and watch it grow makes learning that much more exciting.”

Tweet me: Detroit Pollinator Garden Houses Vacationing Butterflies

KEYWORDS: Journey North, Monarch Watch, resource preservation, Romulus Engine, Wildlife at Work, Wildlife Habitat Council, GM, General Motors

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