Clark Elementary dedicates monarch butterfly garden to late school board member

PADUCAH — Students at a local elementary school have created haven for monarch butterflies, dedicating it to a long-serving school board member who passed away last year.

Students at Clark Elementary created the butterfly garden named for the late Bill Black, who served on the Paducah Public Schools Board of Education for 24 years.

The garden started out as just a couple of trees planted around the campus. Now, it’s a certified monarch waystation. It provides food for the butterflies as they migrate.

Steve Ybarzabal was a biology teacher at Paducah Tilghman High School before he became the principal of Clark Elementary, and he is teaching his students the importance of environmental life cycles.

“They get to learn that from a seed head, you get hundreds of seeds from one flower, which is kind of a neat learning experience for our students.” Ybarzabal said.

There are tomatoes growing in the garden and indoor, hydroponic plant towers where kids will be able to grow, harvest and eat greens and vegetables.

Ybarzabal’s next step is to teach his students about composting with their own soil as they get ready to build their own vegetable beds.

Black’s grandchildren attend Clark Elementary. They said they like that the garden will provide fresh vegetables to the school.

In a couple of years, flowers planted there grew more than 4 feet, and they are home to a variety of animals.

“We get hummingbirds here, butterflies and moths,” Ybarzabal said. “We also have a bat house, so we have bats as well in the evenings that come out and eat insects.”

Ybarzabal’s idea to all of this is to provide teachable moments to students in a real-world setting.

The children say they want to build a garden of their own some day.

Ybarzabal is trying his best, one child at a time.

There are more monarch butterflies sightings in the spring in Kentucky.

If you would like to add a waystation in your back yard to protect the migration of monarch butterflies, visit: https://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/.

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