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Butterfly garden planting time has arrived

By Staff
PLANTING From left, student Maya Luster, student Megan Atwood, Lauderdale County Extension Agent Steve Strong, student Chelsea Byrd and student Ashley Deen set plants to draw butterflies early next year at the Poplar Springs Elementary Explorer's Annex. The group planted Butterfly Bush, Mexican Bush Sage, Lantana and other plants. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Oct. 18, 2001
More than ever before, classrooms studying nature are moving outdoors and the Lauderdale County Extension Service is eager to help.
A couple of years ago, the outdoor classroom began its local wave of popularity at the Parents As Teachers Parent Resource Center near Magnolia Middle School. A butterfly garden and outdoor lab was constructed with the help of the Lauderdale County Extension Service.
It has been added to ever since.
Currently, the extension service is advising schools to begin planting so flowers will be established for the spring and bloom before students leave for the summer.
Volunteers with the extension service, called "master gardeners," are involved in working the gardens as well. They also help teachers with educational programs.
Butterfly gardens and nature trails are popping up throughout Lauderdale County for children to explore. Students learn about their environment and wildlife in their school's own back yard.
The local Keep America Beautiful Commission in Meridian has supplied mini-grants this year for environmental education.
Meridian Community College's horticulture department has used some of the grant money it was awarded to produce stock plants for butterfly gardens at schools and churches.
Schools interested in establishing outdoor classroom areas should contact Gail Barton at MCC at 483-7319. For help in creating the garden, or for more information about becoming a master gardener, call Steve Strong at the Lauderdale County Extension Service at 482-9764.
Strong said plans are in the works to develop an outdoor classroom teacher's guide on CD-ROM to inform teachers how to incorporate outdoor classrooms in their curriculum.
Follow up programs, such as in-service teacher workshops are being scheduled for 2002.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at