Brookings City Councilor Dennis Triglia christened Kalmiopsis Elementary School a Monarch School Thursday morning.
According to Triglia, Brookings was the first Monarch City in the U.S., and Kalmiopsis is the second Monarch School in the state and the fourth in the country.
A “Monarch School” sign was installed on the school and the gate to the Little Bear Patch – the school’s garden. Afterward, the ribbon was cut and the crowd entered the garden for a barbecue and the release of a tagged monarch butterfly.
The school was designated a Monarch School by Monarch City USA. The organization certifies municipalities and schools to encourage them to help monarchs recover by planting milkweed and nectar plants, according to its website.
The number of monarch butterflies has declined precipitously — by about 80 percent in the past 20 years — according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which tracks the iconic black and orange insect.
“Monarchs are threatened by a host of sources destroying their habitat and food, but studies have shown that a main source of their catastrophic demise and decline has been genetically-engineered crops,” the CBD officials said.
They especially singled out crops engineered with resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup. The herbicide, used in fields for weed control, kills the milkweed monarchs eat.
Triglia said the school earned the honor by allowing Brookings Oregon Monarch Advocates (BOMA) into classrooms with monarch eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises to teach students about monarchs, by raising, tagging and releasing monarchs and by transforming the Little Bear Patch school garden into a pollinator garden.
He credited the students in Michelle Prudden’s Youth Transition Program and volunteers from BOMA for doing much of the work during the transition.
In addition to the designation of the school, and with partial funding from the city of Brookings,Triglia said, BOMA members are organizing a Monarch Festival to be held in Azalea Park Sept. 15.
He said he will apply now to certify the school’s garden as a monarch waystation through Monarch Watch, and he thanked Superintendent Sean Gallagher and the school board for their support.
Prudden thanked her students for their hard work and thanked Gallagher and the board for “not saying ‘no” to me yet.”
She noted the progress of the gardening programs in Brookings-Harbor schools under the direction of Lynette McPherson, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Triglia asked those attending to plant flowers, milkweed and native plants and reduce their use of pesticides to increase the number of monarchs and pollinators.
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