2020 Monarchs Across Georgia Pollinator Habitat Award Winner: Sagamore Hills Elementary School
The Monarchs Across Georgia (MAG) committee is excited to award Sagamore Hills Elementary School the 2020 MAG Pollinator Habitat Award. This award recognizes a MAG-certified pollinator habitat that goes above and beyond the minimum certification requirements and has been certified for at least three years.
Sagamore Hills Elementary School (Sagamore Hills) has a school garden habitat that is also accessible to the public. Students use it daily to study the butterfly lifecycle, perform monarch and bird counts, and undertake bird habitat studies. The original MAG certification was for three, 4’ x 6’ raised beds that are maintained and replanted as needed.
Led by Stephanie Spencer, a K-5 STEM teacher at the school, an additional hillside garden was added in fall 2019. Originally a weedy habitat, the hillside (130' long by 15' high) was turned into a pollinator haven. With the efforts of more than 60 parents, staff, and students on three full Saturday workdays, over 100 native plants were planted across the entire hillside.
The hillside garden now includes dozens of flowering plants to provide monarchs with nectar. It includes three species of milkweed, is pesticide-free and also has signage to prevent spraying by district personnel. Students raise monarchs in the classroom, test for Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) and send the samples to the University of Georgia. Students also tag the monarchs for the fall migration through Monarch Watch. One of the most unique features at Sagamore Hills is a seed box to share native plant seeds with families and the neighborhood. About 200 packages of A. tuberosa (butterfly weed) seeds were shared in fall 2020. All seed packages have a QR code that links to planting instructions. Students collect and package seeds during garden club and in STEM classes.
Congratulations to Sagamore Hills for the pollinator habitat that has not only grown in size and variety of plants, but also provides inspiration to the students, parents, and members of the general public who visit.