An environment club at Calhoun Middle School, known as Team Awesome, has been learning about butterfly gardens and plants that are known to attract butterflies from their Life Science teacher Edward Kemper.
Now, the 10-member group has begun making plans for a monarch garden habitat and is keeping it green from start to finish.
Team Awesome club members are Maisie MacKnight, Sadie Llop, James Nannie, Hannah Gravitt, Alyssa Waters, Lily Prater, Caleb Hayes, Austin Cherry, Poonam Patel and Pooja Patel.
“We are trying to create a monarch habitat,” Kemper said. “The space we are using was going to be an outdoor classroom and now is our garden space.”
According to Kemper, monarch butterflies need milkweed bushes (Asclepias) for their caterpillars, as well as lantana plants to draw in the adult butterflies.
One of the main benefits of a butterfly garden is that they help a garden to bloom through pollination.
“They are great pollinators,” Kemper said. “They are part of the food chain, so other things eat them.”
Currently, there are two milkweed bushes and a couple of lantana plants in the garden. In the next few weeks, the middle school garden club will fill the garden with more plants in the flowerbed located right behind the eighth grade hall beside the back pathway.
“We hope to have ten different varieties and will propagate seeds,” Kemper said.
Watering the Garden
Planting a butterfly garden is one of the greenest activities around; but, to keep the butterfly garden green, the club will also conserve water by collecting rain water that falls into 55-gallon rain barrels placed underneath the school’s gutters.
With one third of an inch of rainfall on Monday, Kemper said they were able to fill up the three gallon rain barrels and collect 330 gallons of rainwater.
“The recent rain has given us a chance to test out are barrels,” Kemper said. “We have learned a couple of ways to maybe improve our design and we are working on placing the other barrels around the school.”
Another benefit is rainwater is great for a garden.
“Rainwater has no chemicals added into it,” Kemper said. “You don’t have to pay for it and it’s better for your garden.”
Dan McBee, president of the New Echota Rivers Alliance, has supplied the club with 10 rain barrels, which will allow the club to conserve as much water as possible.
Seventh grade member Caleb Hayes explained that the rain barrels are placed underneath gutters around the school, and once the water has been collected, it is emptied out through a spicket, where a hose can be attached that will pour out directly into the garden.
“It makes you feel satisfied when you have worked so hard on a project,” Hayes said.
Various groups have donated all of the supplies and Team Awesome would like to thank Superintendent Michele Taylor, Greg Green and Virgil Waters for their help.
In the meantime, Team Awesome is also learning about grant writing. The group is submitting a formal write up of their project to Scholastic Foundation as part of an ecological challenge and contest for a $10,000 scholarship.
Kemper said the club members were responsible for designing a brochure about water conservation and the butterfly garden. They are also calculating how much money is being saved by collecting rainwater.
The group will know by the end of November if they will receive the scholarship.