Students in the gardening club at Casselberry Elementary School in Casselberry, FL, have filled an entire 10- by 10-foot garden bed with a species of native milkweed, a favorite of Monarch butterfly larvae. Their goal? To raise and track the eastern migration path of Monarchs to Mexico and raise money for their outdoor classroom. The students established a company to produce Monarch chrysalides in the classroom. (The larvae dined on their garden-raised milkweed.) They introduced the project to others by distributing a chrysalis they'd nurtured to each classroom, pre-K through grade 5, then asked students to release the emerging butterflies near the club's nectar-producing flower beds. This was such a success that the young entrepreneurs decided to sell chrysalid "trees" (with 1 to 5 pupae each) so students, teachers, and parents could release Monarchs in neighborhood gardens. Each sale includes a student-designed brochure with care instructions and information on Monarch migrations.
The products must have delighted the first 200 buyers; 600 new orders are now waiting to be filled! Buoyed by their booming business, club members have dreamed up other products that might inspire learning and yield a profit. "I originally had vegetable gardens in mind, but it was student impetus that moved this project forward instead," says fifth grade teacher Frances Guest. "There's no question that they are much more committed to a project when they're in charge!"
Frances and her students would be delighted to correspond with others who have questions about raising butterflies in bulk! You can contact them by e-mail email@example.com.