Photos by Lisa Bicknell
Jackson Energy employees and members of the Four Seasons Garden Club installed pavers, weeded, mulched and planted more flowers in West Irvine Elementary’s Monarch Waystation on Friday.
Four Seasons Garden Club and Jackson Energy employees revamp Monarch Waystation
By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Members of the Four Seasons Garden Club and Jackson Energy Cooperative employees arrived at West Irvine Elementary bright and early Friday morning to tackle a Beautify the Bluegrass project.
The Monarch Waystation built by the Four Seasons Garden Club on the school grounds was the beneficiary of help from Jackson Energy’s employees.
Beautify the Bluegrass is a state-wide partnership between Governor Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, and Kentucky Living magazine. The initiative is in its second year.
The co-ops choose different projects, and one will be selected in August to have a barbecue meal with Governor Bevin. Kentuckians can choose from among ten nominees on KentuckyLiving.com to determine the four finalists. Governor Bevin will announce the winner of the Beautify the Bluegrass contest at the Kentucky State Fair on August 23.
Not only is the Monarch Waystation at West Irvine Elementary a haven for Monarch butterflies and a
“Beautify” project, to Francine Bonny, member of the Four Seasons Garden Club, the Monarch Waystation is an effective outdoor classroom.
She remembers working in the flower garden one afternoon when she noticed some little girls sitting in the grass watching club members work.
When Bonny asked if they’d like to help, the girls were eager to pitch in. Francine explained to them the difference in the weeds and the desirable plants, as well as some of their benefits. After recess was over, the girls were reluctant to go back inside. One of the little girls told Bonny it “was the best day of school we’ve ever had.”
Teachers also use the Monarch Waystation as a teaching opportunity. Sometimes they take the chrysalis into the classrooms so students can watch the butterflies emerge.
The Waystation is a green oasis of annual and perennial plants and shrubs on the school grounds. Native milkweed is among those plants, and it is crucial for the development of the Monarch butterfly.
The plot not only nurtures butterflies, but pollinators such as birds and bees are attracted to it.
The work crew, consisting of one Estill County employee and others from Lee County, pulled weeds, applied mulch and arrangedpaver stones. Jackson Energy also donated $500 to the club for purchasing needed materials for the project.
There is a larger picture at stake here than the contest though. The presence of Monarchs is an indication of the health of their local environment, Bonny explained.
Some common threats to the Monarch are that milkweeds (their main food source) are often mown. The use of pesticides and herbicides also threatens them.
Bonny said she would like to think that dozens, at least, of the Monarchs hatched in the garden on the school grounds are among those which will eventually migrate to Mexico.
Cutline: On Friday, members of the Four Seasons club had the help of several Jackson Energy’s employees with weeding, mulching and planting at the Monarch Waystation at West Irvine Elementary.