Cranberry preschool garden a haven for wildlife
The young students of HeartPrints Center for Early Education in Cranberry are learning that they can make a difference in their environment just one milkweed plant at a time.
The preschool's staff and parent volunteers planted a wildlife-friendly garden aimed at conserving native populations of monarch butterflies and nourishing other area wildlife.
It features native plants, including several species of milkweed, the sole food source for monarch butterfly larvae.
Populations of monarch butterflies and other pollinators, such as honey bees and bats, are dwindling across the country — so much so that the White House recently addressed the loss by establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force to help restore populations.
Spearheaded by Michele Rice, who has two children enrolled at HeartPrints, the garden also serves to educate the children early on about the importance of conservation.
“The more you know, the more you care,” Rice said. “The kids are going to grow up appreciating the wonders of nature.”
The garden has been certified as a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and a Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch, an organization dedicated to the study and conservation of the monarch butterfly.
While the garden started with parents and staff, it is maintained by the students at HeartPrints.
“It's the kids' project,” said HeartPrints Assistant Director Grace Byrnes. “They're watering, they're weeding, they're doing daily bird-watching.”
Byrnes said that to have the school's garden recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and Monarch Watch, it had to have a certain number of native plant species and milkweed plants.
There are more than 3,000 certified Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats nationwide, according to the National Wildlife Federation website.
Rice of Franklin Park formed a keen interest in monarch butterflies five years ago when she started a butterfly garden with her oldest child, then 3.
They planted three milkweed plants in their garden and raised 41 monarchs.
After the first year's success, Rice's garden and interest in monarch conservation grew each year.
She began passing out milkweed seeds to friends and started a garden at her son's elementary school.
The staff at HeartPrints had been looking to spruce up the outdoor play area in the spring, so after Rice approached them, a collaboration was natural.
They began putting in the garden at HeartPrints in mid-May, Byrnes said.
Students helped build and paint colorful bird houses, feeders and baths, and they painted two toad houses that sit nestled in the flowers. HeartPrints received a $1,000 grant from PPG to cover the costs of supplies and labor, Byrnes said.
Although not huge, the garden can have a big impact for the creatures that inhabit it. Every plant was chosen for a reason, Rice said.
“Ornamental plants are great, but not necessarily the best for wildlife,” she said. “You need good nectar sources.”
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or email@example.com.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Seneca Valley team places 1st at Carnegie Science Center competition
- Disbanding Butler Stadium Authority requires state approval
- Butler Township commissioners expected to approve town homes
- Butler County initiative aims to find employment for struggling job-seekers
- Deadline looms for Butler Area consolidation plans
- Butler County COG, Humane Society aim to control cat population
- County human services director’s reorganization plans stymied
- Mars Area students put science theory into practice
- Seneca Valley bands, choir put on holiday performance for senior citizens
- Adams man faces trial on charges of misusing stepdaughter’s student loans