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Students continue Monarch conservation efforts PDF Print E-mail
Friday, September 20, 2013 12:08 AM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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OTTOVILLE — High school students in Susan Jones’ environmental science class are continuing with work on the established Land Lab — picking up where last year’s students left off — by resurveying the naturalized areas and making plans to over seed one-half acre of the space with a seed mixture containing a variety of native grasses and wildflowers.

“Their plan is to plant in early October and observe the growth in the spring,” Jones explained. “The seed mixture will contain two types of milkweed plants to attract the Monarchs.”

 

Jones said she and the class are hoping the plants will grow successfully and that they can start collecting seed for Wild Ones. Wild Ones is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote biodiversity and environmentally-sound practices using native species in developing plant communities.

 

In 2013, Jones’s class was awarded a grant through Wild Ones Natural Landscapers’ Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program, which supports students as they learn about native plants and the part they play in pollination and the water cycle.

“Last year, the Wild Ones donated $200 to our lab,” Jones detailed. “They are passionate about preserving landscapes and creating feeding areas for the monarchs during the summer months.”

The class has been working to develop the lab for the past two school years.

The first year, students spent time developing the project, measuring the lab area and brainstorming ideas for its future use.

Last year, the students researched grasses and wildflowers to plant with the goal of attracting a variety of species. The students chose wildflowers that would attract pollinators and butterflies including; Prairie Dock, a perennial herb with whitish flowers used by Catawba Indians to treat burns; Prairie Aster, a reseeding wildflower with blue/purple color and yellow centers; Butterfly Weed, a nectar source for butterflies with leaves as food source for Monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars); Black-Eyed Susans, a perennial plant that draws butterflies and songbirds as well as being deer- and rabbit-resistant; Yellow and Purple Coneflower, a perennial that draws bees and butterflies alike; Mountain Mint, a perennial that hosts various bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies and beetles; and Milkweed, the host for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Monarch butterflies deposit their eggs on milkweed plants and once the caterpillars emerge, they eat the leaves.

“The Monarch butterfly has been battling a loss of habitat in its wintering areas of California and Mexico,” Jones said. “We have planted milkweed plants to attract the monarchs and hope to become a recognized butterfly garden.”

Last year, the class collaborated with the Industrial Arts class, who constructed wooden bird houses to attract a variety of indigenous wild species like Finch and other native common birds. After the four bird houses were built — two of the boxes were to attract bluebirds, one was for Wood Ducks and the other for the American Kestral or Screech Owl — they were installed on metal posts in the naturalized area.

“The bird housing gives them a place for nesting, Jones said. “We had success in a couple of the birdhouses but the duck box was too heavy for our metal poles and fell.”

Other classes are also getting involved in the project and are using the space to learn about biodiversity. Recently, the high school students took groups of fifth-graders out to the Land Lab to help them do a laboratory investigation about biodiversity and soil quality.

“The fifth-graders were amazed with all of the insects, spiders and wildflowers,” Jones said with excitement. “They enjoyed learning about nature and it was great to see them thinking like scientists and asking questions about the world.”

The outdoor lab is located on the west bank of the Little Auglaize River, approximately 150 yards to the left of the walkway which approaches the bridge to the park.

For more information, visit Wild Ones Wild about Monarchs: http://www.wildones.org/learn/wild-for-monarchs/

Last Updated on Friday, September 20, 2013 12:29 AM
 

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