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Garland Mayor Doug Athas, Jo Garcia and Colleen Biggerstaff from the Kiwanis, and Kevin Keeling from Loving Garland Green pose with a few members of the North Garland High School Key Club Monday morning at the schoolyard butterfly garden—October 12, 2015.

This morning several visitors--all pollinators of the human variety--converged on the recently installed North Garland High School Butterfly Garden.  It was indeed a lovely event and members from two local nonprofits who work with our youth were present—the Kiwanis and Loving Garland Green.  In addition to them we had interested citizens of Garland, our mayor, members of the North Garland High School Key Club and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representative from Austin.

The purpose of this convergence was to show the garden to Grace Barnett, an outreach specialist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who is in town for a special press release on the 13th at the Bush Center.  Loving Garland Green members wanted to introduce her to our mayor and to some of the members from the North Garland High School Key Club.  This Key Club, with a little support and assistance from members of Loving Garland Green, has installed a butterfly garden that we hope will grow into a great habitat for pollinators and a great natural learning environment for students.

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Kala King brought a special book to share with those at the event.  Sophia Tran (President of North Garland High School Key Club) and two North Garland High School Key Club Members look at a book with drawings of butterflies and expressions of appreciation for Kala King who shared her knowledge, experience and photography with a class of Garland second graders.

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Mayor Douglas Athas Takes the Mayors' Monarch Pledge

Mayor Athas - Spring of 2014 - Building a trellis to assist Loving Garland Green in installing an Urban Garden in the backyard of a Garland Family.  Our mayor does a lot more than merely pose for photos--although he can do that too.

As I’ve mentioned more than once previously, Garland is very fortunate to have Mayor Douglas Athas as one of the leaders of our community.  He is extremely supportive of activities undertaken by our youth—from Scouts to Key Club members.  You’ll often see him at their events and this morning was no exception.  Another great thing about the Mayor is that when I invite him to an event, I usually need to spend very little time introducing him to the people there because he already knows most of them and better than I do.  He is definitely hands-on with many projects that are undertaken in our community.

I just received an email from him letting me know that he has taken the “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge” which means that Mayor Athas commits to implement at least three of 25 action items designated by the National Wildlife Federation. Mayors taking more than eight actions will receive special recognition as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Leadership Circle.  [Note:  I have looked over the list and see that Mayor Athas has already met at least four of these requirements and probably more.]

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Grace Barnett – a very special visitor to the garden

 

Grace Barnett, Outreach Specialist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin talks with some of the visitors at the North Garland High School Butterfly Garden.

Grace is only in her third week on the job as an outreach specialist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but she knows quite a bit about pollinators and their habitats—particularly the Monarch butterflies.  Promoting education and the use of these schoolyard butterfly gardens to involve students in meaningful inquiry is definitely one of her priorities.  She left us with lots of valuable information to ensure the North Garland High School Butterfly Garden will grow and expand students' knowledge of nature and the importance of providing habitats for our wildlife within our urban setting.

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Kala King--wildlife photographer visited the garden today

 

(Kala King, Garland resident and wildlife photographer, on the left and Grace Barnett, Outreach Specialist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on the right in the North Garland High School Butterfly Garden – October 12, 2015.)

Kala King was among the guests who attended.  Kala is a talented professional nature photographer.  But like all of us, Kala is so much more than her profession.  Among other activities, Kala rescues Monarchs.  She is likely the champion individual Monarch rescuer here in Garland for 2015.  Kala has saved them as eggs and caterpillars and then released 9 Monarch butterflies this year. Three more pupas in her habitat are about nine days away from becoming Monarch butterflies.  Thus, that will make at least a total of 12 Monarchs that Kala has rescued this year.  If you know of any individual in Garland who has a better record for rescuing Monarchs this year, please write to me.  

To see Kala's lovely photography, visit her website at http://www.kapturedbykala.com and you won’t be disappointed.  It is brilliant and some of her work is for sale.  Perhaps with all this renewed interest in pollinators, Kala will be able to make a series of posters to sell to educators, and in fact to all of us who love nature.  Below is Kala’s photograph of a Monarch emerging (eclosing) from its pupa (chrysalis). 

Photo Credit:  Kala King 

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YOU DIDN'T HEAR IT FROM ME BUT:

With all the focus on the beautiful Monarch, it's easy to forget that Texas, with its varied eco-regions, has over 400 butterfly species and subspecies--more than any other state.  Not all of them are milkweed butterflies (butterflies who exclusively choose the milkweed for depositing their eggs). Many of them choose other plants such as the passionflower vine, dill plants and even parsley--a favorite among some Swallowtails.  Also these other butterflies overwinter in Texas.  Unlike the Monarch, they do not migrate.  They stay put for the winter in the dead leaves and plants, in evergreen shrubs, and even in the soil. Further south in Texas, where it is warm year-round, they don't even need to hide under cover. 

And butterflies will not be the only important pollinators to visit the Butterfly Garden.  Perhaps the most important pollinating visitor of all will be the honey bee.

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