Over the past couple of weeks Bella Hubbard, Kennedy Freeman and Conner Freeman undertook the task of revitalizing Washington elementary school’s butterfly garden.

Both Bella and Kennedy committed to the project in order to reach the 20 hours of community service necessary to receive the Girl Scouts’ Bronze leadership award. The trio focused many hours on removing goldenrod, an invasive species, from the garden.

“In addition to removing invasive plants and adding native plants we want to educate and interest the community in the bio-diversity of the butterfly garden,” said Bella.

After the goldenrod was removed, they planted shrubs, milkweed and a number of other plants in the open area. In addition, Bella, Kennedy and Conner led their fifth-grade class in a project that allowed everyone to leave their mark on the school.

“When the whole fifth grade came out to do their planting the girls and Conner did all the communicating with the teachers and led that project,” said Rachel Rosner, Bella’s mother, parent volunteer and Girl Scout troop leader.

“Every fifth grader got one plant to plant so they would remember Washington school,” said Kennedy. “We split everyone into groups. There was weeding, planting and disposal,” she continued.

Bella, Conner and Kennedy also educated their classmates on what plants they as a class were adding to the garden. “We told them a backstory of how the Native Americans had these plants and how the Europeans kind of took over and planted new ones,” said Kennedy.

One focus of the project was to bring back native species of plants. Each of the fifth-graders helped that cause by adding a native plant to the garden.

As part of the garden overhaul, Conner, Bella and Kennedy also painted designs and a logo on the outside of nearby classroom windows, which had caused problems for a number of birds who crashed into them.  

“People love this garden. Kids walk through it on the way to school. It’s just a great little patch of nature,” said Ms. Rosner. “The gardens also provide a lot of educational opportunities. Teachers release butterflies that they have raised in the classroom. They come out and look at different stages of plant development,” Ms. Rosner continued.

The entire garden was created three years ago as part of a PTA project. Part of the landscaping budget was used to fund this round of upgrades to Washington’s butterfly garden.

Ms. Rosner says she would also like to credit Thomas Moore, a landscaping business owner, with assisting the team with their project.

Bella, Kennedy and Conner hope that their work will cause more butterflies to make use of the gardens, help biodiversity and spike community interest in the garden itself. Currently they are 14 hours into their 20-hour endeavor.