Orchard Knob Elementary School students are receiving a lesson in sustainability through a newly installed pollinator garden on the school’s campus. By nurturing plants, the students will help to provide a habitat for monarch butterflies and to restore the dwindling population. The Chattanooga garden is the latest in BASF’s nationwide biodiversity initiative called the Living Acres Monarch Challenge.
For weeks, students tended to the garden installed by BASF employees and watered the flowers. Before the end of school, they launched newly-formed butterflies, which had been undergoing metamorphosis while in the students’ care.
“Through this monarch waystation, we can educate and empower the next generation about environmental protection and sustainability,” said Rob Gagliano, director of the BASF site in Chattanooga. “Ensuring a healthy monarch butterfly population teaches an important lesson in environmental awareness while allowing children to connect with nature.”
"BASF launched the Living Acres Monarch Challenge to show how modern agriculture can coexist with sanctuaries for monarchs and the important role it plays in promoting biodiversity for generations to come," officials said. "The number of monarchs has dramatically declined in the United States in recent years due to issues like overwintering habitat loss, extreme weather events, low nectar sources and sparse milkweed – the only plant that provides monarchs with food for reproduction. Nurturing the milkweed plants allows students to experience how important habitats are to wildlife surrounding them."
“Interactive lessons outside the classroom are very valuable to our students,” said LaFrederick Thirkill, principal of Orchard Knob Elementary School. “Instilling an appreciation of nature gives children a sense of their footprint in the world. We are grateful BASF chose our campus for the conservation initiative and appreciate the educational opportunities that come with it.”