Girl Scout Silver Award Creates Monarch Weigh Station to Help Butterflies Thrive in Metuchen

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Alanna Redwood (Troop 80412) and Julianna Mullen (Troop 81411), eighth graders at Edgar School, created a Monarchy Butterfly Silver Award project for Girl Scouts with the help of Judy Graziano, the Edgar School science teacher who participated in a similar effort with her seventh graders this year. The dwindling numbers of Monarch butterflies affects our natural world in a myriad of ways and the girls took it upon themselves to help replenish the population with their creative endeavors.

They created a certified Monarch Weigh Station (as confirmed by Monarchwatch.org), housed at Edgar School.  The garden is filled with various milkweed and nectar plants in compliance with their certification -- this allows for Monarch caterpillars to thrive and eventually emerge as butterflies. (The placement of the milkweed garden is right next to a still-thriving Butterfly garden, an Eagle Scout's project planted years earlier). This placement will attract more mature Monarchs to lay their eggs on the new neighboring milkweed garden. The milkweed garden will be sustained and monitored by the science teachers at Edgar along with their Student Environmental club for years to come.  

The milkweed seeds were distributed to all the schools via Redwood and Mullen (through community donations at the fair) to insure the growth of milkweed plants for years to come. More eggs create more opportunities for the science teachers at Edgar to continue the curriculum for the 7th graders. The high school also has milkweed plants in their student garden.  The girls would like to see all the schools in Metuchen plant milkweed seeds in their schools' courtyards and gardens so that even more butterflies could prosper around Metuchen. 

The girls did their community awareness at the Fall Metuchen fair - where they won 3rd place in the youth division for best booth presentation. 

There they displayed their instructions on how community members can make their own milkweed garden and showed how they raised their own monarch caterpillars, then tagged and released them for their migration to Mexico. The tagging gives scientists an opportunity to see where the population is coming from and how each region can become more aware of helping improve the Monarch population. Monarchwatch is working hard to encourage such projects around the country and the world.

The girls had several monarchs hatch right before the fair - so they were able to release one butterfly each hour during the actual fair, on the actual day of the fair.  For those lucky enough to witness their flights, the butterflies really created great interest among community members. Monarchs in flight are a simple pleasure to witness. 

At the fair also, the girls, along with a group of close friends, raised funds to pay for the seeds with trivia games for older kids and butterfly games for the younger kids. The Silver Award candidates answered a variety of questions on the process of how to plan out the location of one's personal butterfly garden and preparing the milkweed seeds to make sure they grow.  

Their goal was to educate the public as much as possible about what a Monarch needs to survive and how every community member can help increase the population with just a small amount of effort.  The reality is - Monarchs' must have milkweed as it is the only plant they eat; because it is a weed, people don't often realize just how important a plant it is. If we could just leave the milkweed plant alone in nature and stop misusing pesticides and herbicides (which are the #1 killer of the Monarch butterfly), the Monarchs could thrive again and help establish a more balanced ecosphere for everyone to enjoy.

An METV interview was conducted that day. Check it out on Channel 15 or online.

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