The National Wildlife Federation once again has partnered with HISD to help reverse the decline of the monarch butterfly, launching its Monarch Heroes Program for grades six through eight.
“The goal of the Monarch Heroes Program is to help the monarch butterfly, whose population has declined over 90% in the past two decades, while giving students the opportunity to become engaged in and empowered to help solve a current and tangible ‘real-life’ environmental problem,” National Wildlife Federation Senior Education Manager Marya Fowler. “The monarch butterfly is a species that students can have a direct positive impact on that they see in their schoolyards, their backyards and their parks.”
Fowler said the program lends itself beautifully to a project-based learning approach: Students learn the importance of pollinators, develop plans, and implement effective solutions—such as creating monarch gardens with native nectar and milkweed plants—that can make a concrete difference for the species.
Piney Point Elementary currently is one of several elementary schools to build a monarch garden on its campus with support of the Monarch Heroes Program and through fundraising.
“The structure and support to create a project based learning unit focused on life science and stewardship have been the best things about the project for me and our team,” said Piney Point teacher Kim Boyce-Quentin. “The training and materials have made it very simple to design and implement.”
Schools awarded a grant will receive a total of $2,000 toward the purchase of garden supplies. The first installment of $1,000 will be distributed in the spring, and the next installment in September, allowing schools ample time to assemble their Monarch/Eco Teams on their campus and carefully plan, design, and create a timeline for the implementation of their habitats.
“The students taking charge and ownership has been the most gratifying aspect of the project,” said Boyce-Quentin. “They continue to initiate projects and plans to support monarchs and their gardens.”