Riverview teacher earns national award for creating school butterfly garden

Gloria Brooks enjoys spending time in her garden with her pre-k students at Collins Elementary School in Riverview. 

"It's so fun. And it's amazing how much, how much they love it. And with my children, we have special needs in this class, and so we're working on a lot of language, a lot of talking, a lot of conversations. It's a science lesson in literacy," she explained.   

Brooks just received the National Harmony Hero award for her Tampa Bay Monarch Project. 

"Oh, I was so full," Brooks exclaimed. "I was so honored. It's amazing. I've been following Earth Kind for a long time." 

Earth Kind is an eco-friendly company that creates plant-based products. Their 2021 national initiative is to help save the monarch butterfly. 

"And it's just to bring awareness to these butterflies and to encourage people to plant their own butterfly gardens," Brooks shared.  

The Monarch Project is a social media movement to show the importance of the monarch butterfly.  

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"The monarch butterflies were almost placed on the endangered species list. Their population has decreased by 80 to 90 percent in the past 20 years so, they're in danger."  

Brooks even planted her own butterfly garden and has been building butterfly gardens for the past three years at local schools. 

"I think it's so important to incorporate these types of lessons in schools," Brooks said. "Not only are our children learning about the importance of pollinators and butterflies, but respecting nature, having a hands-on experience in the garden, being out in the sunshine.  I just think it's so important for kids to have these outdoor kinds of lessons and to develop a love for animals and plants and to want to ultimately just take care of our earth."  

She hopes her passion to preserve the Monarch Butterfly, flies into the heart of her students. 

"It's very rewarding. Yes, it's a win, win. I mean, I find it. I find it fun. The kids find it fun and it's helping our environment in the long run."  

Brooks wants everyone to know that butterflies are huge pollinators that our environment needs.

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