Polytech student saving the monarchs

She is on a mission to save the monarch butterfly. For the past several years the Polytech High School student has been gathering information about a species threatened by habitat destruction.

With the help of an environmental science team of eco-enthusiastic students, she’s in the early stages of constructing a butterfly garden at the high school.

Amanda Philliips is the main reason Polytech School District is the only school district in Delaware Children in Nature, an organization dedicated to educating children about the environment.

 MORE ABOUT  PHILLIPS

      ♦ CLASS Senior

      ♦ MENTOR Susan Wujtewicz, Environmental Science teacher

      ♦ ACTIVITIES FFA

    

The monarch butterfly isn’t listed as endangered, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing a petition requesting Endangered Species Act protection for the monarch.

Why are you trying to save the monarch?

Last year I did a project studying monarch butterflies. Their populations have been declining over the years, mostly due to the loss of milkweed, which is their host plant, and as caterpillars it’s the only thing they can eat.

So, for my butterfly garden I want to have a section for monarchs and have a bunch of milkweed so I can help protect the species.

How did you initially become interested in the monarch butterfly?

A few summers ago I went to this event upstate that was hosted by Monarchwatch.org. You collect butterflies and you tag them and you report their tag numbers. When they migrate down to Mexico they have workers down there that log the numbers to see how far your butterfly went.

How will this butterfly garden benefit the community?

With the butterfly garden if kids come here I’ll be able to teach them about the life cycle of butterflies, their host plants and all the butterflies that we have here in Delaware.

It would inform children about butterflies and eventually inspire them to start butterfly gardens in their own backyard. Eventually, if people plant enough milkweed for monarchs, it could help the monarch species come back because they are on their way to the endangered species list right now.

What kind of progress have you made on the garden?

Right Now we’re doing landscape maintenance with the class. I have my group out here, and we’re getting the soil prepared to plant the plants in. We’re also applying herbicides, transplanting campus plants to the garden, and gathering seeds.