GREENVILLE — Darke County Park District Naturalist Mandy Martin is busy bringing the park programs into the classrooms.
From 2015 to 2016, Martin had an increase of 896 students and in increase from nine school visits to 20.
“They like having that person reach out to them, making it simple and easy,” Martin said.
Tuesday, she brought in her favorite program “Symbolic Migration” to the first, second and third-grade students of DeColores Montessori school, in Greenville. “Symbolic Migration” is a program through a website, “Journey North”, which tracks wildlife migration data and seasonal changes. Martin had students focusing on the migration of Monarch butterflies to Mexico, where they hibernate in Oyamel fir trees. The trees become orange, as they are covered in Monarchs. They are so dense in number, one can literally hear their wings flapping, Martin said.
“What makes the Monarch Butterfly so special, other than the fact that it is beautiful?” Martin asked the students. “They migrate,” she said. “When we talk about seasons, we think about fall migration, which is happening now. When they migrate, that means they leave their summer home. The Monarch butterflies, that are here in Ohio, are taking flight way up in the sky, all the way down to Mexico. Why Mexico? It is warmer. All the Monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains are going to Mexico. Just like the habitat with Milkweed here in Ohio is very important for the Monarchs, because that is all they lay their eggs on; the habitat in Mexico is just as important for those winter populations of butterflies.”
As part of students learning about the Monarch migration, the program allows them to exchange homemade butterflies. The Montessori students will make individual butterflies and a larger classroom butterfly. Martin sends those to Mexico. When the butterfly pictures reach Mexico, photos can be seen, via “Journey North” of the children in Mexico holding some of the butterflies belonging to students of Montessori. The students from Mexico and other parts of the United States and Canada, will send their butterflies to the students here, sometime in the spring.
“It’s such a neat program,” Martin said. “It gets the children thinking about Monarch butterfly conservation. They are learning about saving this iconic species that is close to being on the endangered species list. In 2013, the population of Monarchs was the lowest it has ever been.”
Darke County Park District President Roger Van Frank believes that it is the District’s responsibility to bring the Parks into the classroom.
“We provide additional support and knowledge with our subject – matter experts to the stewards of tomorrow,” he said. “If we can just gain the interest of a few of our stewards of tomorrow by our visits to the schools, they will be able to continue the educational needs of our grandchildren and support and protect our parks in the future. “
DeColores Montessori school first – third-grade teacher Sharon Vanden Bosch said the Darke County Park programs are a way to bring the outside into the classroom.
“We are really lucky to have Darke County Parks,” she said. “And Mandy has always been so fabulous about whatever we are studying, offering some sort of correlation to Darke County, which is where the kids live. That is why we love it.”
For more information on school programs contact Mandy Martin at 937-548-0165 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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