George W. Bush Elementary – the first elementary school named for the former president – opened its doors to the students of St. Paul, Texas in August 2016. Located northwest of Dallas, the school is situated along the central Monarch migratory flyway. Hundreds of thousands of butterflies pass through Texas as they embark on their annual 3,000 mile journey to and from overwintering grounds in Mexico.
In response to the loss of habitat threatening the monarch, Bush Elementary became a Monarch Wrangler as a part of the school’s initiative to develop and maintain a school garden. The gardens will feature pollinator-friendly native plants, including the milkweeds important to monarchs, and an inclusively designed outdoor learning center. The school’s monarch conservation project is designed to facilitate the recovery of the monarch and other critical pollinators by creating habitat, while allowing children of all abilities to participate in nature and develop a sense of environmental stewardship.
Beginning in the summer of 2017, Bush Elementary PTA, students and their families, faculty, and community groups came together to design and plant a monarch waystation, complete with nectar plants, seeded and mature milkweeds, and water sources for migrating butterflies. Students and their families rallied at the school for hands-on learning about monarchs, metamorphosis, pollination, plants, seeds, nutrition, recycling and environmental stewardship. The garden initiatives have continued this summer with additional community planting days, raising monarch caterpillars, and installing bird feeders.
Thanks to the ongoing efforts of members of the St. Paul community, the Bush Elementary campus garden has grown (literally) from idea to fruition. Students and their families, girl scout troops, church groups, and many others have created “seed bombs”, planted dozens of milkweeds and nectar plants, built planters, spread mulch, and more – bringing all of these groups together for the common goal of conservation and environmental stewardship. Representatives from the school staffed an informational booth about their campus garden at EarthX, one of the largest annual environmental expositions in the world, sharing their stories of successful student stewardship with thousands of expo visitors in April 2018.
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