Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – My Butterflies

Name: Elizabeth Benedict
From: Surfside, California
Grade: 12th
School: Orange County School of the Arts
Votes: 0

I open the wooden gate of my girl scout house, feeling the familiar
touch of the worn wood graze on my skin, reminding me of a time
before I could open the gate by myself. I fling open the gate, my
hands preoccupied with baby pink and seafoam green painted tires that
are upcycled pots for the monarch butterfly waystation I will be
creating today. As I walk in, I’m greeted by the lush grass that
lines the house and an old oak tree that has watched over me for
thirteen years. I stack the tires in an arrangement of different
shapes until it is in the right position close enough to the
sprinklers. I carry in a wooden five-foot monarch butterfly cutout,
where the young Girl Scouts will be able to put their heads through
as the flash of a camera goes off.

As I set up for the day, all four of my troop members and our leader
whisk through the gate, disrupting the calm atmosphere and bringing
boisterous noises, that will be the rest of the day. Just as I finish
setting up, young girls burst through the gate, their eyes wide with
curiosity and energy. The look on their faces is why I do events like
this. They always have a yearning to know more. The event starts to
pick up and the rest of my team members are busy at their booths. I
speak to the girls about the monarch butterfly cycle, and what they
must go through to become a beautiful butterfly. Today I am building
my third monarch butterfly waystation, but this time it’s live for
all to see at Gardening day, an event my troop but on every year
teaching young Girl Scouts about gardening and the science that comes
along with it. I first start with explaining to the girls that they
will be helping me build a waystation, and first we must begin by
putting the dirt into all of the tire planters. The eagerness of
these girls is through the roof, and each and every one of them wants
to take a crack at using the old beach buckets that have since lost
their vibrant colors.

As the dirt piles up so does my energy. As the masses of people stream
in I am in awe of how many parents and children want to help with my
waystation. I speak to them about the importance of monarch
butterflies, how the species is declining rapidly, and the effects
that their loss will have on our little town of Seal Beach,
California. Where I live, monarch butterflies use to be a dime a
dozen, drifting through town like clockwork every April, but now
because of the extreme habitat loss ranging from the mountains of
Mexico to the lush forests of southern Canada, my once beloved
butterfly is becoming critically endangered. So when the opportunity
came up to create my gold award, there was no second guessing that I
had to spread the word about the loss of my insect friend that I hold
so dearly close. I spoke about the plants that we will be putting
inside the planters which are a variety of milkweed and pollinator
plants I picked out especially for the monarchs. Milkweed which is
key to a successful monarch butterfly way station because they are
the only plants monarchs can lay their eggs on, as well as the only
plant the monarch caterpillars can eat. The girls little hands so
eager to hold the delicate plants. Slowly but surely, each plant had
its home in the six different tire planters the girls and I had
created. As the sun made its way across the horizon, creating a mix
of orange and red in the sky (much like a monarch wings grazing the
heavens), I breathed a sigh of relief and watered my newly planted
friends.


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