Lakeview Pollinator Garden is Open for Bees-ness!

By Janel Crooks on Sep 9, 2009

Lakeview Elementary students are enthusiastic gardeners!

Schoolyard Garden Brings Pollinator Awareness to Youth and Community

The Hiawatha National Forest teamed up with GreenWorks and Lakeview Elementary School to establish a pollinator garden on the school grounds June 8, 2009. This project was multi-staged beginning in February 2009 and included environmental education programming, participation in Monarch Live distance learning program, planting and care of plants prior to planting on the school grounds.

A $1,000 grant was received from GreenWorks to fund this project. The implementation of the pollinator garden became a community project. Five Hundred milkweed plants were donated by Borealis Seed Company Big Bay, Michigan. Other donations were soil and pots from Meister's Showplace and pots from the Marquette Conservation District. Volunteer labor was provided by Negaunee High School Key Club members who helped clean the greenhouse, fill pots, assist the 2nd graders with planting and prepared the garden site for planting.

A power point presentation on the monarch butterfly life history, habitat needs and native plants was given by Forest Service biologist Janet Ekstrum and botanist Deb LeBlanc. "Monarchs in the Classroom" educational material was purchased with the grant which will allow the pollinator garden to be used on a yearly basis as a living laboratory where students can study insects and learn about native plants.

Students from the high school Key Club assisted Mrs. Ferns and Mrs. Trudgeons' second grade class in cleaning the greenhouse. On March 13, each class took turns planting seeds in the school greenhouse assisted by Janet Ekstrum, the Negaunee High School Key Club, school staff and Big Brother's Big Sister's. Species planted included coreopsis, aster, black-eyed susan, monarda, milkweed, perarly everlasting, downy goldenrod, blazing star, green-headed coneflower. For some kids this was the first time they had planted wildflowers. The project allowed the greenhouse at Lakeview Elementary to be in use again. The plants were taken care of weekly by the 2nd grade students until planting.

June 8th, Maryann Ferns organized the planting of the garden assisted by parent helpers, 2nd grade teacher Marlys Trudegon, school custodians, and Forest Service employees Deb LeBlanc and Janet Ekstrum.

Of the project, Janet Ekstrum said Pollinator conservation is becoming increasingly important due to recent severe declines in pollinator species especially honey bees and native bees from causes such as habitat loss, agricultural practices, use of herbicides and pesticides and new diseases such as colony collapse disorder. More than 30% of the food we eat comes from plants which are pollinated by bees and other insects. Providing gardens with native plants provides insects with nectar and a pollen. Gardens provide feeding and resting areas for the monarch butterfly during their annual migration.