Clubs come together to plant butterfly garden


Jenna Lagoey

Sculpture student Sergio Alvarez, a retired surgeon, stands outside the Health and Life Sciences building with five statues he created for the new butterfly garden.

Jenna Lagoey, Senior Reporter

Students from multiple clubs and the Biology Department planted a garden on campus last spring designed to attract Monarch butterflies.

The garden, outside the Health and Life Sciences Building, is filled with milkweeds, goldenrods, cornflowers, zinnias and many other plants that appeal to Monarch butterflies. An AACC student also designed and fabricated five colorful butterfly statues for the garden.

“I feel pretty proud about the fact that we can say we put out literally hundreds of plants in that planting [and] we also handed out many hundreds more,” Michael Norman, AACC’s Environmental Center laboratory manager, said.

The garden was a collaboration among the Biology Department, Super Science Club, Student Ambassadors, Sculpture Club, service-learning students and volunteers.

“The beautiful thing about the project, not only does the college now have an outdoor sculpture installed, but also that there was an experience where students were learning by doing and also students were collaborating from different disciplines,” Wilfredo Valladares, visual arts department chair and Sculpture Club adviser, said.

Bryant Pepe, a second-year physics student and member of the Super Science Club, said the garden is important because “the Monarchs are fighting endangered status. So we need to do everything within our power as conservationists just to give them a fighting chance.”

Students and campus volunteers planted hundreds of milkweeds near the Health and Life Sciences Building.

“The important thing about the milkweed … is that it is the only plant that the Monarch butterfly is able to complete its life cycle [on] by laying its egg on that plant,” Norman said.

Milkweed is also the only food source for Monarch caterpillars.

A new Monarch butterfly garden on campus features milkweed and Maryland native plants. (Jenna Lagoey)

Sergio Alvarez, a retired surgeon who takes AACC classes, built the butterfly statues, which he made from welded metal and cast resin.

“I was always fascinated by the Monarch butterflies,” Alvarez said, “which are very brittle, very small, and have the power to fly up in the sky for thousands of miles.”

Norman said the Biology Department’s goal “is to maintain a healthy population of Asclepias [milkweed], not just around HLSB, but on campus in general.”

“Wherever there’s been really significant environmental successes, it’s always when people work together for long periods of time, for sustained periods of time,” Norman said, “And that’s what we’re after.”

Student Government Association President Abigail Billovitz-Hayes, a student ambassador, helped plant the garden.

“Doing service projects like Monarch garden [are] definitely good for, you know, campus and community getting everybody together,” Billovitz-Hayes said.