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Article updated: 6/20/2011 4:37 PM

Grant helps Rolling Meadows school's butterfly garden bloom


John G. Conyers Learning Academy is about to burst out in color for the summer.

That's because the Rolling Meadows' academy has finished planting its new butterfly garden made possible by the Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program.

The grant funds were administered by the Greater DuPage Chapter of the Wild Ones, a nonprofit environmental education and advocacy organization that promotes restoration projects.

The grant program awarded the academy $250, which it used to purchase wildflowers for the butterfly garden.

The annuals planted in the garden were purchased with money from an Illinois Early Childhood Block Grant secured by Kathy Villano, project director for the Early Childhood Developmental Enrichment Center

But those flowers didn't plant themselves. More than 400 early childhood students provided the labor and love needed to beautify the school grounds. They were joined in the effort by members of the Greater DuPage Chapter of the Wild Ones, as well as Jennifer Roberts, a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. Now, the butterfly garden will both welcome visitors and serve as an outdoor classroom that will provide year-round learning opportunities for the academy's students.

Creating the butterfly garden allowed the students to put to use the knowledge and skills they acquired in May during a monthlong study of gardening. That unit called for the restoration and maintenance of an established wildlife habitat as a firsthand experience in the field. It also provided students with opportunities to learn about the life cycles of living creatures, nurture their respect for plants and animals, and create a desire to care for all life in the world around them.

The gardening unit also included a visit to the Crabtree Nature Center in Elgin, where students explored native habitats and learned how interdependent nature can be. During this field trip, some students released Painted Lady butterflies among the bluebells that grew at the center.

"We would like to thank all of those who provided the funding and support that made the creation of our new butterfly garden such a tremendous success," said Mary Brummel an ECDEC teacher at the academy.

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