SKOWHEGAN — Students in Lori Swenson’s third grade class at Bloomfield Elementary School wanted to help monarch butterflies in their battle for habitat and survival, so they got creative.

The 15 students created a butterfly garden behind one of the mobile classroom units on their campus. They learned about butterfly life cycles in science and that many butterflies are in danger because of habitat loss, Swenson said.

“As a result, we wrote a persuasive letter to our principal, Mrs. Pillsbury, to convince her to let us build a butterfly garden,” Swenson said. “After we planned out the garden, took measurements and came up with a budget to pay for it, she approved it. I also wrote a community grant to Walmart who donated a community grant of $500 to us to buy most of the materials, and Ware Butler in Waterville donated the materials to build the garden bed.”

The kids finished the garden this past week and had a ribbon-cutting ceremony with butterfly songs and poems.

Student Gabby Goding, one of the more talkative in the class, said there was a lot to learn about butterflies and how to help them.

“We were doing research on the butterflies’ life cycles, and we learned that the monarch butterflies are becoming endangered,” she said.

Gabby’s classmate, Taylor Quattrocchi, added that the habitat of the monarch is in danger because milkweed plants are being cut down and mowed over. Without milkweed, where the butterflies eat and lay their eggs, the monarch will die, she said.

Classmate Calee Barrett said the answer is simple: “We can grow more milkweed.”

The students said their garden also is designed to attract other kinds of butterflies, too. They have seen tiger swallowtail butterflies and others around the garden, built beside an outdoor classroom donated by New Balance.

Outside at the garden, Gabby and her classmates gave a tour of the mulched bed, where a hollyhock or a maldia plant was growing among other plants and they showed their visitors a butterfly watering station with glass pebbles so they can land and get a drink without getting their wings wet.

“It was a really, really good experience, and I think it was a good opportunity to learn more about perimeters — the borders of the garden,” Gabby said of the edges of the schoolyard where they hope to attract more butterflies with seed bombs tossed into the brush and tall grass. “We learned a lot about gardening and more about butterflies, and this will be really helpful to the other grades because they’ll get a live experience.”

Swenson said she will water the garden this summer and be ready to turn it over to next year’s incoming group and some parents whom she hopes will volunteer time for general upkeep.

“For the next third grade we’re hoping to add some plants, and another classroom has written a persuasive letter to the maintenance department to not cut down some of the edging where we want to plant some milkweed,” she said. “We also want to build some shelters for butterfly houses. If it’s bad weather, they go in there to get away.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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