In September, the Grade 12 biology class at Hamilton District Christian High in Ancaster, Ontario, spent a morning hiking the trails at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Toronto. In addition to enjoying the gardens’ attractions, students had the opportunity to tag and release monarch butterflies. The garden’s education department has been involved in projects in monarch biology and conservation. In the summer, caterpillars are reared for educational programs, showing the different life stages of monarchs. In the fall, monarchs are tagged and released and migration studies begin.
The students learned about monarchs as well as other species at risk in Ontario, and about the role that they can have in preserving biodiversity. The effects of invasive species like the emerald ash borer and mana grass were apparent, and students and learned about the methods being used to control them.
In addition to participating in an educational program, the students experienced biodiversity first hand. The visit allowed them to observe herons, raccoons, ducks, turtles, cattails, beaver dams, woodpeckers, and much more in their natural habitat.