This post was contributed by Kate Rezac, NCEA Monarch Grant Program Teacher Leader
Our lens has changed this year, and now we view our learning with a new perspective. We find the importance of the Monarch, the beauty of creation, the value of citizen science, and the blessings of creation around us every single day. We are waiting for the blooms and for the butterflies to return.
We recently read nonfiction texts and examined features like headings, illustrations, captions, diagrams, and maps. We read migration stories of Monarchs, whales, and whooping cranes. We were touched to see the efforts of Operation Migration. They work to support the cranes as they migrate. Students used iPads to “meet” some of the cranes and follow their migration path at www.journeynorth.org. We could not help but feel a special connection to them as we work to support the Monarchs.
The students also wanted to write letters of thanks to Dr. Wagner who made our Monarch grant possible. Using topic sentences with supporting details, the students composed thoughtful letters stating why the Monarchs, the garden, and the efforts are so important. It was beautiful to witness students constructing such meaningful letters.
With a skip in our step, we walked through the garden and saw tulips and daffodils emerging! Our garden is one of the Journey North Tulip Test gardens. We are one of the locations around the world that document the coming of spring and red emperor tulips. Students and community members planted over 1,200 bulbs in the fall. We are anxious to see the beauty unfold in the next few weeks.
Before the snow fell, individuals from the Nebraska Nature Conservancy came to visit our garden. They have been in email contact with us, and they plan to share our efforts with the greater community in their spring bulletin. We are grateful for their outstanding work around the state to be such leaders in being good stewards for creation. We are blessed to do our small part.
Last spring students and community members who lost a special loved one created drawings. These drawings were then burned into walnut wooden disks by a thoughtful volunteer. Thanks to a family who donated the wood, we were able to include these special markers of special loved ones in the garden. The Monarchs will love to perch on these beautiful and special pieces in the garden. We were touched to see them, too.
We were saddened to see the cold winter storm that hit the Monarch sanctuaries in Mexico last week. We examined weather maps and observed photos of the snow covered Monarchs. We pray for the Monarchs to survive and prosper despite their hurdles and challenges. We pray for a safe journey for these marvelous migrants. We pray for people to help these amazing creatures by planting milkweed, providing nectar plants, reducing harmful chemicals, and being mindful of Monarch habitats. We also pray in thanksgiving for the beauty, the strength, the transformation of the Monarch….we can learn so much from this butterfly.
Saint Margaret Mary School in Omaha, Nebraska, is a two-time recipient of the NCEA Monarch Rescue Grant. Grantee schools will share monthly updates on their efforts in researching, planning, building, and maintaining the very best monarch-friendly butterfly gardens possible. They will monitor the success or failure of the garden, learning from problems they encounter to plan improvements in subsequent years. Most important, the developing learning modules will incorporate Catholic social teaching on stewardship of the resources God has provided us.