In 2013, the residents of the County of San Diego Girls Rehabilitation Facility worked with the University of California Cooperative Extension and the UC Master Gardeners to create a garden and a propagation area on site. They named the garden area at the Girls Rehabilitation Facility the Growing Opportunities Garden and formed their own Master Gardener committee. Since that time, the Master Gardeners have continued to work with the girls from the rehabilitation facility on a regular basis to provide hands-on training and guidance in gardening techniques.
In the summer of 2017, the garden was awarded a Monarch Waystation certification by Monarch Watch, a cooperative network of students, teachers, volunteers and researchers dedicated to the study of the Monarch and their 3,000 mile migration that spans four generations of butterflies. The Growing Opportunities Garden will be contributing to Monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the Monarch migration phenomenon. Participants are dedicated to meeting all the guidelines that come along with the Monarch Watch certification and are getting ready for spring by preparing and planting a new butterfly host plant bed that will attract even more butterflies.
The participants are learning so much every day--not only about Monarch butterflies, but life as well. "I can relate to the butterfly's transformation because going through this program helped me transform into a better person,” said Marissa, a participant in the program.
“Every new day is another chance to change your life and transform,” said another participant. “Be free like a butterfly.”
As a result of all their hard work, the Growing Opportunities Garden team was selected to participate in a scientific study that will track the western Monarch migration, in partnership with the Butterfly Farm in Encinitas.
The girls are learning how to tag the butterflies, collect and turn in data and fully participate in this important study. Each tiny, adhesive-backed tag is imprinted with Monarch Watch’s phone number, email address, and a unique identifying number. The tag numbers issued to each recipient are recorded in a database, so recovered tags can be traced back to the butterfly’s tagging location. The growing number of start and end points helps researchers test hypotheses about Monarch orientation and navigation.
The students are enthusiastic about the program. Another participant in the program had an idea for a slogan for tracking and banding: "Grab it, Snap it, Track it!"
For more information about the Monarch Watch program at the Girls Rehabilitation Facility, please contact Lori Wenstrom: firstname.lastname@example.org.