Students celebrate Earth Day at Lakeview

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Butterfly beacon attracts students.

By Mario Parker Menchaca III

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Northeast Lakeview College celebrated Earth Day April 19.

Many student clubs had booths in the student commons area displaying the theme of water conservation and the role of native plants, as well as tours of San Antonio’s only Monarch Waystation, a garden made of a variety of milkweeds.

Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on these plants and will pollinate the other Texas native plants among the garden.

The Gardening Club’s interactive booth gave students and staff a chance to get their hands dirty by making seed balls.

Starting with a mixture of soil, clay and water, participants rolled the mud in a mixture of seeds of native plants.

After letting the seed ball dry for 24 hours, it is ready to be tossed anywhere and will grow in a matter of weeks with good soil, water and sunlight.

The mixtures provided by the Gardening Club had fun names like “Butterfly weed,” “Save the Bees” and “Pollinator Essentials,” which were blends of milkweeds and wildflowers native to South Texas.

The Gardening Club also had a petition for visitors to sign advocating for an official campus garden.

Business sophomore Andrew Cummings was the representative for Texas Master Naturalists. According to their website, txmn.org, TXMN is a “corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.”

Complete with a replica of a rainwater harvesting system, the organization’s display provided information on the importance of water usage, aquifer recharge zones and drought restrictions.

The Earth Day organizing committee set up computers for an online Water Footprint Calculator hosted by GRACE Communications Foundation.

“Your water footprint is the amount of water you use in and around your home, school or office throughout the day,” said anthropology freshman Maddi Meyers, a member of the Earth Day organizing committee.

The survey tallies participants’ indoor/outdoor water use as well as virtual water.

“You may not drink, feel or see this virtual water, but it actually makes up the majority of your water footprint,” according to the GRACE website, gracelinks.org.

Visitors who participated in Earth Day by making a seed ball, signing the garden petition or by taking the survey received a free NLC Earth Day 2017 shirt.

Visitors also toured the college’s monarch waystation.

According to reference librarian Linda Plevak and biology Professor Laura Houston, a Monarch Waystation is a garden that acts as a resting spot, feeding ground and a safe place for Monarch butterflies to lay eggs during their epic migration north for the summer.

Monarch butterflies are the state insect of Texas.

They migrate from Mexico to the upper Midwest over several generations.

A “super generation” of Monarchs will hatch from their chrysalides then migrate back down to the warmth of the Oyamel forests in Mexico during the fall.

The entire journey spans nearly 3,000 miles.

Since July 2015, Plevak and Houston have overseen the only registered Monarch Waystation in San Antonio.

It is part of a citizen scientists program that relays data nationwide.

The University of Kansas granted 32 milkweed plants to NLC to get the waystation started. Plevak has served as a citizen scientist at Cibolo Nature Center at its Monarch Waystation for six years and advocated for the grant.

She led the tours of the waystation on Earth Day.

“We are trying to save the world one instar at a time.” Plevak said, referring to the developmental stage of the metamorphosis processes when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

“It’s nice to walk around and see nature,” biology freshman Cheyenne Dekow said on the tour.

The gardening, science and anthropology clubs, as well as biology student volunteers, have been hard at work on the main attraction since it broke ground.

“Students have helped tremendously,” Houston said. “They dug about 60 holes in one hour.”

Many students enjoy the short walk to the waystation.

Math sophomore Christopher Placencio is also the president of the Science Club.

His favorite parts of the waystation include “getting out in the sun and meeting new people.”

For more information, visit the reference desk at NLC to contact Plevak, or call 210-486-5390 or email lplevak@alamo.edu.

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