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Summerlin supports school pollinator gardens

Over the past few years, The Howard Hughes Corp., developer of the master-planned community of Summerlin, has made school gardens in Summerlin elementary and middle schools a priority by providing funding to underwrite garden farms as a teaching tool. Today, Hughes has expanded that focus with the help of its nonprofit partner, Green Our Planet, to add pollinator gardens at several Summerlin schools. Pollinator gardens are home to native flowering species and milkweed plants that attract butterflies, insects and bees — ultimately serving as an oasis for native pollinators and adding another level of learning for students.

According to Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for Summerlin, HHC provides initial funding and Green Our Planet provides the expertise and know-how to make school gardens a reality. Gardens are incorporated into the curriculum for a number of subjects and can be used to teach math, biology, environmental sciences and even business principles.

“Plus, we strive to promote a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle, and tending a garden is a physical activity that gets kids out of the classroom,” Warden said. “The new pollinator gardens are an exciting addition to our already successful school garden program, and we couldn’t be more excited that Summerlin students will experience and see first-hand the migration of butterflies, bees and insects to better understand their life cycles and the importance of pollinators to plant and food growth.”

According to Kim MacQuarrie, co-founder and co-CEO of Green Our Planet, pollinator gardens include a variety of native vegetation, including milkweed, to attract pollinator insects and also the spectacular monarch butterfly as it migrates from the Rocky Mountains to and from California each spring and fall.

“Monarch butterflies, in particular, have been at dangerously low levels for years, so helping to create a nutrient-rich spot for them to rest along their migration journey is critical to the survival of the species and the overall well-being of our environment,” MacQuarrie said. “In fact, we are working to get each of our pollinator gardens certified as nationally recognized Monarch Butterfly Way Stations. It’s an exciting opportunity for the kids to experience the magic, beauty and significance of our natural world.”

Today, Green Our Planet has built more than 180 school gardens throughout the Clark County School District, and 50 of these gardens also have pollinator gardens. In Summerlin, eight public schools have gardens thanks to generous funders, including The Howard Hughes Corp. and others. This spring, HHC will fund six pollinator gardens at schools throughout the community.

“Teaching children how to grow their own food and getting them excited and interested in gardening is not just a trend, it’s a way of life,” MacQuarrie said. “Best of all, gardening engages and connects people with healthy food, and kids truly love to eat what they grow.”

Summerlin offers more than 160 floor plans in 36 neighborhoods throughout nine villages. Homes are available in a variety of styles — from single-family homes to town homes, priced from the low $300,000s to more than $1 million. For more information, visit Summerlin.com.

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