Westwood Elementary School students, staff and volunteers have been working hard to create a pollinator garden they hope butterflies, hummingbirds and bees will one day call home.
In April, district staff first dug up a 1,500-square-foot plot on the northwest side of the school and the area was mulched and prepped for more than 800 native plant seedlings with the help of Small Waters Education — a McHenry County not-for-profit.
Meanwhile, Westwood students learned in their classrooms about insect life cycles, plant life cycles and native Illinois ecosystems. They also learned about the connection between pollinators and food crops and the importance of citizen actions to conserve our natural resources.
Fourth- and fifth-grade classes rotated throughout the day on Thursday, May 10 carefully transferring the plants into the garden.
“At first I did not realize that plants were so important to animals. But now that we went outside and planted flowers, I realize that they are very, very important,” fifth-grader Karson Boal said.
Westwood teacher Kathleen Lacy-Anderson said the school received two grants — one from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and one from the Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee, that are funding the pollinator garden project.
The native prairie plant garden will provide food and shelter for a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, bees and birds. Pollinator species, which are of vital importance to the ecosystem and the agricultural industry, are in decline throughout the United States. Westwood´s pollinator garden will provide critical habitat for these important creatures while serving as a powerful teaching tool for our students.
“I think this was fun because the pollinators are losing their homes so we are building one for all of the pollinators,” fifth-grader Jack Vidales said.
Fifth-grader Kimberly Colin Estrada said she can’t wait to see all of the butterflies and bees.