Showcasing how visionary projects can nurture future leaders who are not only academically adept but also environmentally conscious and aware.
In an era of urbanization and technological advancements, the importance of connecting the youngsters with nature cannot be overstated. My school, the Sacred Heart in Kalyan, Maharashtra, stands as a beacon of inspiration in this regard. Their authorities had given me the mandate to set up a butterfly garden and provided all the required finance and manpower. And as our pioneering effort flourished with time, I was duly absorbed as a Nature educator.
In February 2017, our campus attracted only 10–12 different butterflies. So we grew some nectoring plants like Wedelia, Hamelia, Jamaican spike, spicy jatropha, pentas, Golden Duranta, periwinkle, Caesalpinia, lantana, etc. By May, we observed 25+ butterfly species fluttering in our compound. Then, we introduced these nectoring-cum-host plants: Nerium, Bryophyllum, Krishna Kamal, lemon, curry leaves, and Ixora. And, by September, our garden bloomed vibrantly. Not only our butterfly count increased day-by-day, our bird count also rose due to the easy availability of food. Throughout the year, our results were astounding as we documented an impressive 56 species in our 1500 sq. ft. garden.
With the active participation of both our students and teachers, we transformed a corner of our ground into a vibrant ecosystem. We grouped several pairs of students and allocated the daily plant-watering duty to them so that the saplings keep flowering. We avoided every chemical pesticide and weedicide, and used manure from our school’s composting pit. We observed the garden daily to record the lifecycle stages of butterflies—the egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult butterfly. Further, we installed an information board with photographs of diverse flies and their specs which enabled the students to identify about 15+ varieties clearly. Next, we established a butterfly nursery, conducted a series of butterfly lectures, and organised an exclusive butterfly festival! Our garden has been more than just a sanctuary for winged wonders; it has become an outdoor classroom—a living laboratory, where our ambassadors-of-change learn through direct observation and hands-on experiences. Thus, we enhanced their educational experience by bridging the gap between traditional learning and the natural world.
We have a lush green campus of about ten acres where we integrate natural farming with other agricultural practices. Apart from making natural fertilisers, we run a biogas plant and varied animal husbandry projects. We pursue rain-water harvesting, dry and wet waste segregation, and use hundred per cent solar power. The journey of developing our butterfly garden is a testament to the power of education in transforming landscapes and mindsets alike. It showcases how a simple initiative can instill within our next generation a sense of responsibility and appreciation for our environment.