Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Casey County Middle students build butterfly garden for community

Casey County Middle School students Kayla Goad (left) and Brenna Hayes (right) accepted the school’s PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award from PRIDE’s Jennifer Johnson (center).

Casey County Middle School students Kayla Goad (left) and Brenna Hayes (right) accepted the school’s PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award from PRIDE’s Jennifer Johnson (center).

PRIDE has honored Casey County Middle School for a service learning project completed by its students during the 2013/2014 school year.

Just under 150 seventh-grade students participated in the project, which was led by teacher Karin Weddle. They researched, designed and built a butterfly garden at the Casey County Ag Expo Center. They added wildlife habitat and rain barrels, which they built at an environmental camp in June.

“We commend the students for using their knowledge and skills to build a garden that will be enjoyed by their community and will benefit wildlife, too,” said PRIDE’s Jennifer Johnson, who presented the school’s PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award.

“Ms. Weddle and her colleagues not only made science come to life for these students, but also gave them a chance to make a lasting impact on Casey County,” Johnson said. “This was a fun, memorable experience. This project showcases the power of hands-on learning to create life-long lessons.”

The project lasted several months. First, students researched biotic and abiotic factors needed to maintain a sustainable habitat for butterflies. Then, they determined which factors would work for a Kentucky environment. Next, they selected appropriate Kentucky native plants for their butterfly garden.

“They made a list of the height and width of the mature plants and designed a scaled butterfly garden on their Chromebooks and/or graph paper,” Weddle said. “The classroom teacher selected the top 10 designs and the owner of a local greenhouse selected the final design.”

The students then selected a garden site at the Casey County Ag Expo Center.

“At this location, members of the community and the residents of the county’s nursing/rehabilitation center can enjoy the garden,” Weddle explained. “A local farmer prepared the ground for us, and the students measured the location of plants, planted the plants and added mulch to the area.”

They also planted Kentucky native trees in the camping sites.

Students studied the life cycle of butterflies during the project. They observed butterflies emerge from chrysalis bought by the school. They later released the butterflies in the garden.

As part of the project, the school sponsored an environmental camp in June. At the camp, students built wooden bird houses, gourd birdhouses, wooden bee houses, squirrel houses and rain barrels for the garden. Extra rain barrels were painted and sold. The proceeds were donated to the local college fund.

“We join Ms. Weddle in thanking the organizations that made this project possible,” Johnson said. “We appreciate the 21st Century CCLC, Casey County Ag Expo Center, Ridgetop Greenhouse, Casey County Soil Conservation Department, Green River Builders, First Day Farm and the Casey County Detention Center.”

PRIDE funds contributed to the project. Casey County Middle School used $1,482 from its 2013/2014 PRIDE Environmental Education Contract to purchase native plants, butterfly larvae, a bench, materials to build a sign that was then painted by art students, and concrete for stepping stones and setting the sign post.

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. PRIDE presents one award each month to an education project within the 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.

PRIDE is a nonprofit organization supporting environmental cleanup and education efforts in the region.

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