Saving the monarchs

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Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy

The Birnbrich girls, (counter-clockwise from the top) Margaret, Lindsay and Hannah, pose with their first milkweed sprouts of the spring. The girls are looking forward to helping their mother, Kelly, teach a three-part series called “Save the Monarchs” at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library over the summer.

With summer vacation fast approaching, parents everywhere are scrambling to find fun and educational activities to keep their kids busy.

Kelly Birnbrich of Galloway, has a solution – grow a monarch garden.

Kelly and her daughters, Lindsay, 11; Hannah, 11; and Margaret, 9, have made it their mission to educate as many people as they can about the dwindling population of monarch butterflies – and what can be done to help them.

Not only did the girls raise and release over 50 monarchs last summer, they also spent time collecting seeds from the milkweed plant, the only food source for monarch caterpillars, and packaged and mailed them to anyone interested.

This summer, the Birnbrich girls, along with their mom, are stepping up their efforts.

Kelly will teach a “Save the Monarchs” class, a three-part class that will take place at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

The first class will take place May 11 from 3-5 p.m. The theme of that class is “Celebrate Mother’s day with Mother Nature.”

At this class, the first fifty families to arrive will receive milkweed seedlings. All other attendees will receive seed packets while supplies last.

This class will serve as a launch pad for those wishing wishing to make an effort to help save the black and orange beauties.

There will be activities for all ages. Children will take part in arts and crafts and story time. Everyone in attendance will watch a five minute introductory  video about monarchs and milkweed, as well as a five minute video on the monarch’s over-wintering in Mexico.

They will also learn about how and when to plant milkweed, as well as how to sign up and volunteer for the cause.

Kelly also hopes to have Sarah Dalton of Blendon Woods Metro Park speak to the class.

“She knows a lot about the subject, she’s the one who got us involved,” said Kelly of Dalton.

“Basically, this going to help them get the milkweed planted and give them the basic information,” said Kelly.

Kelly plans to schedule the second and third classes for sometime in June and late August. These classes will detail later parts of the process, such as how to properly tag a butterfly and how to harvest the seeds of the milkweed plant.

Kelly hopes that the classes will be a start to a community-wide involvement in saving Monarchs.

Not only is she looking for space all around Columbus to plant milkweed, but she is also hoping that area schools will get involved by raising monarchs in classes.

According to Kelly, who home-schools her three daughters, by studying the monarchs, children can learn math, science, language arts, geography and science, among other subjects.

“It’s great for young kids, and even for those with learning disabilities,” said Kelly. “Working with the monarchs teaches how to nurture and how to be gentle.

For those that are serious about getting involved, Kelly suggests a three-day class held by the Monarch Teaching Network in August.

The classes held by Kelly and her daughters will be free and open to the public, however, registration is required. To sign up, call 853-2004 or e-mail birnbrichkelly@yahoo.com. When placing your reservation, please list the number of adults and children (with ages) attending.

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