GREENFIELD — Monarch butterflies will have a safe place to thrive in Hancock County thanks to the help of students and teachers at Eden Elementary School who are determined to keep the endangered species alive.

Eden’s Wings of Wonder is a new garden located behind the Greenfield-Central’s northernmost elementary building.

Carrie Bowman’s third-grade class broke ground in celebration of the project in mid-May. The following week, parents and high school volunteers came by to till the land and help children plant milkweed and other flowers as a waystation for the migratory butterflies. The garden will be developed throughout the summer.

 Students and teen volunteers planted the butterfly garden together last month. Submitted photo

“I almost cried,” said student Eve Martin, just after pushing a shovel into the ground. “They’re almost extinct and they’re beautiful creatures.”

Third-graders wore bright orange T-shirts with a Wings of Wonder logo – half butterfly, half Eagle for the school’s mascot. Dozens of other Eden students, parents, teachers and G-C administrators joined in the sunny morning to be inspired about what’s to come, according to a press release from the G-C corporation.

Monarch butterflies have declined in population over the last decade due to urbanization, climate change and pesticides. Milkweed– the plant larvae feed on– is also being destroyed. Bowman’s class learned about all these facts and more, and decided to take action.

Wings of Wonder is not only a science and environmental program, but also a lesson in business. Students broke into teams of marketing, development, design and fundraising to spread the word about the garden. Bowman was the CEO of the business and helped facilitate the agenda daily. Groups worked together to research scientific facts, persuade the principal to approve the garden, and gain momentum within the community.

“We’re basically experts,” Eve added.

The new monarch waystation will be registered with the Monarch Watch Organization, and will also become a butterfly sanctuary for all species of butterflies native to Indiana.

“Our mission is to raise awareness, educate, and inspire others to save monarch butterflies,” the students wrote together in a mission statement. “Through our hard work and dedication, we will provide a safe environment for many species of butterflies and conserve their legacy.”

 Third-graders wore bright orange T-shirts with a Wings of Wonder logo – half butterfly, half Eagle for the school’s mascot. Dozens of other Eden students, parents, teachers and G-C administrators joined in the sunny morning to be inspired about what’s to come. Submitted photo

While this is the first year for the garden, it was inspired by a single butterfly a decade ago.

Bowman was obtaining her teaching degree from Ball State University and worked with a girl who was struggling with reading comprehension. A butterfly landed on their tent in Minnetrista Gardens. The pair decided to explore what kind of butterfly it was, and through their passion for the environment and nonfiction text, they were able to make strides in reading and also learn about the life cycle of the monarchs.

These days, Bowman’s passion continues, right down to her bright orange monarch earrings at the groundbreaking event.

Last fall, Bowman brought in live monarch caterpillars to her class that she had found while stopping along country roads and checking underneath milkweed. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and students started reading about caterpillars and how to save the species.

“I’m really happy since I’m trying to help monarchs. It’s really important to help,” said Izzy Jacobson. “Ms. Bowman is a great teacher. She’s taught us a lot about monarchs; Ms. Bowman is the one who got us into it, and we all enjoy helping.”

May 3 was declared Eden’s Monarch Butterfly Day and the entire student body and staff wore orange, black and white. A Google slideshow about butterflies was presented to each class, and the community chipped in financially through classroom donations and online.

May 16 was the groundbreaking of the monarch waystation. It’s located at Eden’s Nature Lab, an outdoor space with a pavilion and benches that classes head to for science and technology, or picnics and school gatherings.

“I think Ms. Bowman’s class learned so much in this project,” said Principal Joe Bowman. “They learned how to use their reading and math skills in real time for a purpose. They wrote proposals to work on writing, they had discussions to work as a team growing their oral language skills, they worked on speaking and listening skills when presenting to classes, they had to use math critical thinking skills when working on budgets for fundraising and grant requests, and they learned how to solve conflicts when the team disagreed. I could go on and on about how much learning took place!”

The garden will give younger students something to look forward to and be a part of when they are third graders, he added.

Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin said the monarch waystation is one example of the many great science, technology, engineering and math programs that the G-C corporation provides.

“We want our students to see the broader impact of STEM activities in our school curriculum,” Olin said. “This particular activity related to animal science is incredibly engaging for our students. I see it motivating them to learn on a deeper level – a level that exceeds what it would have been if it was limited to the classroom alone.”

Ms. Bowman says the community is invited to help keep the garden growing and thriving. They will be working on it throughout the summer, and anyone can volunteer by emailing [email protected] or donate at

“In the future, my plan is for each student to enjoy the new outdoor classroom,” she added. “My dream is for each of my third-grade classes to add to the garden. I have ideas for a five senses garden, alphabet garden, and maybe even a rainbow garden. Only time will tell.”