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Eco-Kids, parents build butterfly habitat in one day at Horizon

Emma Bordelon, from left, Jenna Hwang and Jansyn Free rake slag for pathways in Horizon's butterfly garden. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Emma Bordelon, from left, Jenna Hwang and Jansyn Free rake slag for pathways in Horizon’s butterfly garden. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Parent volunteers Shane Purser, left, and Heath Sheehan break up rock-hard soil for Horizon's butterfly habitat. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Parent volunteers Shane Purser, left, and Heath Sheehan break up rock-hard soil for Horizon’s butterfly habitat. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Surveying their work on Horizon's butterfly garden are enrichment specialist Beth Bero, standing from left, and Eco-Kids Grant Pethel, Jansyn Free, Grace Hannah, Ayra Alam, Emma Bordelon, Chloe Kuebbing and Sean Webster. Jenna Hwang and Sydney Baum are kneeling. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Surveying their work on Horizon’s butterfly garden are enrichment specialist Beth Bero, standing from left, and Eco-Kids Grant Pethel, Jansyn Free, Grace Hannah, Ayra Alam, Emma Bordelon, Chloe Kuebbing and Sean Webster. Jenna Hwang and Sydney Baum are kneeling. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)

MADISON – Similar to an old-fashioned ‘barn raising,’ students and parents transformed a barren plot during “Butterfly Garden Build Day” at Horizon Elementary School.

Several fifth-graders initiated the project last year. Horizon Eco-Kids then managed “it from concept to creation, helped with handouts, measured, calculated costs, drew measured designs and created thank-you gifts for volunteers,” sponsor and enrichment specialist Beth Bero said.

Sea Scout Ship 42 and parents prepared the brick-hard ground by removing sod for paths and garden boxes. “We’re turning an unused utilitarian area into a beautiful area that will be a learning station and part of our Outdoor Education program,” Bero said. The plot measures 60 feet by 30 feet.

Lowe’s in Madison and Alabama Wildlife Federation, Horizon’s longtime partner for the Outdoor Education program, have supported the build. Federation specialist April Waltz, fifth-grade teacher Dr. Lauren Harrison, parent Gabi Bowerman and Bero collaborated on the habitat.

“Parents have been instrumental in bringing about the garden build,” Bero said. Lowe’s, Indian Creek Nursery and Vulcan Materials donated supplies. County Commissioner Steve Haraway transported gravel from Vulcan. Horizon PTA fed lunch to workers.

Near Horizon’s front entrance, the garden is visible by bus and car riders. The habitat is fenced, allowing teachers to take classes there as an outdoor learning station.

The federation suggested plants to attract both larvae and adult butterflies. The habitat will include butterfly bushes, a small crepe myrtle, milkweed, clover, sassafras, black-eyed Susans, lantana, impatiens, zinnia and various herbs. Third- and fifth-graders, Eco-Kids and extended-day students also are growing plants.

Bero is counting on black swallowtail, monarch and other butterflies to frequent the garden. Horizon second-grade teachers have ordered butterfly larvae for science lessons.

Horizon enrolled in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program 10 years ago and certified their outdoor classroom site as a model for other schools in spring 2013.

The Horizon campus also has raised-bed gardens, two nature trails and a creek that serve as a living laboratory, Bero said.

For more information, visit alabamawildlife.org/classrooms.

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