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224 in 2024

Vision

Students who have been actively involved in previous greenhouse projects wanted to continue their learning about sustainable practices and ways to impact their community. They were interested in continuing community partnerships and extending those partnerships to new projects. Students in grades 9-11 wanted to increase the number of native plant species at our school and in our community. The group aligned their work with the 30X30 Global initiative and UN Sustainability goal #15. As our school is on the migratory path of the Monarch Butterfly the students were concerned to learn that this once common sight is now on the endangered species list. The students set a lofty goal of planting 224 native plant species in the community in 2024 thereby creating a haven for pollinators to thrive in their local community.

Action

Both groups of students embarked on a multifaceted approach to their conservation efforts. Firstly, they met with Friends of the Sanctuary (Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary) and learned about their efforts in capturing, tagging and releasing Monarchs as part of the Monarch Watch Program. The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary runs alongside the St. Lawrence River, 30 kilometres upstream (west) from Cornwall, Ontario and extends out in the river to the international boundary with United States. The site is managed by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the Province of Ontario. The Friends of the Sanctuary is a volunteer group that helps maintain the hiking trails and promotes education programs.
Students researched native pollinator species, ensuring that the plants they selected were well-suited to the local ecosystem and would provide essential resources for pollinators. They reached out to experts in the Butterfly Way project for donation of a variety of native pollinator species. They then rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty, planting a variety of native plant species. Two different classrooms were involved in the planting. The organizational group has grown from an initial 5 members to 10 members. This group volunteers after school to not only plant and maintain seedlings but also to plan ways to educate others about the importance of biodiversity. Over 1000 seedlings of native perennials and annuals have been grown and plans are underway to plant these in two locations in the community and in your school yard therefore increasing the biodiversity of our community and helping pollinators.

Reflection & Celebration

The group surpassed their goal of 224 native plants in 2024 by growing a total of 1182 native plant seedlings!
Plans are underway for a combined planting of the native plant seedlings at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary on May 25, 2024. Students will work with the Friends of the Sanctuary to plant a variety of species including perennials and annuals. Perennials include: common milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Brown-eyed susans (Rudbeckia triloba), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Annuals include: a variety of zinnias, alyssum, a variety of marigolds and nasturiums. Also as part of the Iroquois plaza beautification project, students are also planting one area that will be filled with the same native pollinator plants and zinnias. At the school, students will also be planting native perennials to revitalize a garden bed in the courtyard. Future plans involve creating new beds to increase the biodiversity of the schoolyard. Due to school renovations this summer, the construction of these beds had to be postponed.
But their work didn’t stop there. Recognizing the importance of broader community involvement, the students engaged with local residents, businesses, and authorities to secure support for their cause. They continued their partnership from last year with the Iroquois/Matilda Lions club. They will plant some of these species in the community gardens as pollinators are important for food production. They met with a local greenhouse owner about tree species and the importance of biodiversity to agriculture. They will be planting a honey locust tree on the school grounds to help increase the biodiversity of the school yard.
In addition to their practical efforts, the students took on the role of educators, spreading awareness about the importance of pollinators and the threats they face; further, the lack of pollinators’ negative impact for migratory bird paths. In addition to their research, planting efforts, and community engagement, the students are organizing a plant sale (May 22, 2024) as part of their conservation initiative. Leveraging the native pollinator species they had cultivated in the school greenhouse, they offered these plants to the community, encouraging residents to create their own pollinator-friendly gardens.
The plant sale will serve multiple purposes. Not only will it provide an opportunity for community members to directly support the students’ conservation efforts, but it will also serve as a platform for raising awareness about the importance of native pollinator species in maintaining ecosystem health. Through conversations and informational materials that students will provide at the sale, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the vital role that pollinators play in our environment and the actions they can take to support their conservation.
Overall, the number of students involved has increased from last year and the number of seedlings has also increased. The Grade 11 Manufacturing class got on board with the project as new shelving units had to be built to house all of the seedlings. The planting of these species will not only increase the biodiversity of our school yard, but also increase the biodiversity of our community.

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You can also find news articles in the Morrisburg Leader and Chesterville Record after May 25th.

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