Local 4-H Club Connects Youth with Nature while Helping Monarch Butterflies in Hollywood

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With help from a Florida 4-H Pride Grant, funded by Tractor Supply Company, members of Broward County’s Sunshine Gators 4-H Club were able to return to St. Bernadette School in Hollywood, to continue the work of connecting youth with nature, a project started last year with the building of a pollinator garden by Florida 4-H District XIII’s Pride Grant committee.

This year, Sunshine Gators 4-H club members visited St. Bernadette School during seven separate 2-hour classes from March through May, connecting seventeen 4th graders with nature through hands on activities and observations. Students learned about pollination, the life cycle and anatomy of a butterfly, and the need for butterfly host and nectar plants.

The Sunshine Gators 4-H Club invited Ms. Amy Reilly, a Florida Master Gardener, who raises butterflies, to attend one of the classes. During the class both 4th and 5th graders had the opportunity to have hands on experience observing caterpillars and butterflies including Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Zebra Longwings, and three different types of Swallowtail.

With the help of the Sunshine Gators 4-H club, St. Bernadette’s 4th graders added a certified Monarch waystation to the already existing pollinator garden and surrounding area and became citizen scientist as they counted Monarch caterpillars and chrysalises and entered the data on eButterfly.

Sunshine Gators 4-H club members also took their butterfly knowledge over to the Butterfly garden and Monarch waystation at Bob Roth’s New River Grove in Davie.  There they worked with Steven Wain and the Horticultural Therapy program “A Garden for Special-needs Kids Grows in Davie.” Sunshine Gators 4-H members taught special-needs high school students and adults all about Monarchs, the life cycle of butterflies, the types of plants butterflies need, and gave them the opportunity to get a closer look at the caterpillars and butterflies that visit the Butterfly garden/ Monarch waystation at New River Grove.

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