Garden groups created an activity book, promoting nature found in Southern Virginia.
AXTON – The Martinsville Garden Club and Garden Study Club gave Lower School students at Carlisle School in Axton a gift as sweet as honey.
Becky Farrar, president of the Martinsville Garden Club, spoke at the school last week. There, she gave a socially distanced outdoor presentation to fourth graders while other Lower School grades watched a live stream of the event from their classrooms.
Farrar told the students about a coloring and activity book that she and several other members of the two clubs created for the children’s education and enjoyment.
Students from local schools, including Carlisle alumnus Luke Moschler, contributed artwork to the book, which also features adult-drawn artist renderings.
The informative booklet, “Paws, Plants and Pollinators,” focuses on plants and animals found along the trails at the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton.
It’s the newest aspect of a seven-year project that enhanced and created gardens to attract pollinators to the area. Some of those gardens reside at the complex.
“That’s what we’re hoping to encourage with this book: not only a learning experience from the book itself, but for you to visit the site and really learn even more than the book has in it,” Farrar said.
From the ground up
Farrar explained that a generous grant made the project possible. However, the funds didn’t only cover the coloring book.
“The garden clubs received a conservation award from the Garden Club of Virginia. We had two years to spend the money they had gifted us,” Farrar said. “A lot of that went to either signs or plants that we had lost from earlier plantings, but we decided to add more educational components other than what’s at the site, and that’s the result of our coloring book and our website. The website is listed in the book.”
In the coloring book, each plant and each pollinator displays three basic facts. The activity portion includes crossword puzzles, word finds and multiple choice questions.
The last page prompts kids to explore their world. It contains a scavenger hunt, designed specially for the trails at the Smith River Sports Complex. There, they encounter plants listed in the scavenger hunt.
The president explained that during the fall and winter, children might not spot several plants in their book. That’s normal, as it’s not their season.
“Right now, the plants are dormant for the most part, but the signs are still there,” Farrar said. “You could have a fun day with a school group or with your family to visit the area.”
Other fun sights
Although not much is in bloom, getting outside and enjoying nature doesn’t only occur in the spring and summer. There are multiple outdoor recreation opportunities in the fall and winter.
“I encourage you all to try to visit the site. That has signs up that has the educational component as well that you can read more about each plant or pollinator – even just the ecosystem of the area, the Smith River and the trout,” Farrar said.
The president also noted other neat encounters along the nature trails. She mentioned three insect hotels, built by Magna Vista High School students.
“There’s one sign there along the path that tells you what an insect hotel is there to do, to perform,” Farrar said.
She also spoke about new dog exercise areas along the trail, as well as a new footbridge in a marshy area of the trail.
Farrar expressed hope that students found the book helpful and fun.
A thankful heart
Gracie Agnew, Carlisle School’s Head of School, thanked Farrar for the presentation and thanked the garden clubs for the gift.
“It is such an honor for us to have this great partnership with the Martinsville Garden Club and the Garden Study Club,” Agnew said. “We are very, very, very in tune with nature and we study and we understand the importance of, like, our pollinators, for example.”
Elementary school students at other schools in the area will receive coloring and activity books soon, based off on the district’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Amie Knowles reports for The Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected]