Tarver-Rendon Agricultural Leadership Academy students and staff and the City of Mansfield recently named the campus’ butterfly garden after a veteran teacher who wrote a grant to fund the aesthetic and educational landscape. Students will now be able to say they’re going to the Rebecca Sales Butterfly Garden when they study the life cycle of the butterfly, investigate pollinator plants and sow seeds of colorful flowers.
“It’s the most meaningful gift you could have given me,” Sales said during her garden’s dedication ceremony.
Sales, a former teacher of 39 years, served as the City of Mansfield’s public education specialist for the past five years. Sales wrote a grant to fund butterfly gardens at Tarver-Rendon, Donna Shepard Leadership Academy and Danny Jones Middle School.
LaDena Drake, agricultural science teacher at Tarver-Rendon for kindergarten through fourth grade, set up the butterfly garden at her campus alongside her students last year. They turned dirt, brought in mulch and planted seeds.
Although second-graders are specifically required by the state of Texas to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly, all grades benefit from the garden. Drake said her students are planting coreopsis this year, a yellow flower that attracts butterflies, so the campus art teacher can turn petals into pigment for class artwork.
“I can bring kids out and show them pollinator plants. When I can bring them out and show them, it makes it a lot easier to discuss,” Drake said. “When a cloud of butterflies fly away, kids gasp. You can’t do that in a classroom.”
In addition to writing grants for the butterfly gardens, Sales worked with several Mansfield ISD departments, campuses and teachers to bring awareness to environmental conservation.
Now in retirement, Sales says she enjoyed working with Mansfield ISD students, groups and staff. She’s also proud of the garden that now grows in her name.
“They’ve created something way beyond what I could have imagined,” Sales said.
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