Brookside students spend afternoon helping bees, butterflies

PLANTING SEASON: Kally Cady (left) pours fertilizer in a recently dug hole while Hayden Affer (right) plants a pollinator plug at Clay Cliffs Nature Area. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

PLANTING SEASON: Kally Cady (left) pours fertilizer in a recently dug hole while Hayden Affer (right) plants a pollinator plug at Clay Cliffs Nature Area. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Brookside Elementary School students spent one of their final afternoons of the 2016-17 academic year getting their hands dirty.

MAKING THE LEAP: Olivia Nanasi works to create a hole for the next plant to be placed in, while Tanya Velting (right) lends a helping hand.

MAKING THE LEAP: Olivia Nanasi works to create a hole for the next plant to be placed in, while Tanya Velting (right) lends a helping hand.

Students in the second and fourth grades worked at Clay Cliffs Nature Area on Monday, planting milkweed and other natural pollinators as the conclusion to a project with the Ferris State University Card Wildlife Education Center and the Save Our Monarchs organization.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and eat milkweed leaves, which in addition to other plugs planted help different pollinators, such as bees.

“This is a follow-up to our group presentation,” said Randall Gilbert, of Save Our Monarchs. “It’s one thing to learn about this in a classroom. It’s another to come out here and get your hands dirty.

“Our organization believes in educating the youth. We want them to understand pollinators and habitats.”

The Save Our Monarchs organization formed to keep track of the monarch butterfly population, which has been decreasing for approximately the 10 years. The organization brought the equipment for the Clay Cliffs planting.

The flowers and pollinator plants students worked with were bought through grant dollars or donated by Pheasants Forever, according to Big Rapids Department of Neighborhood Services Director Mark Sweppenheiser.

GROUP WORK: Brookside Elementary School students create a hole, pour in some fertilizer and place a plant to help create a pollinator habitat.

GROUP WORK: Brookside Elementary School students create a hole, pour in some fertilizer and place a plant to help create a pollinator habitat.

“Pheasants Forever donated almost $1,000 of seeds for this. Next year, this place will look dramatically different,” he said as he helped students with planting.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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