Green Guide

Monarch butterfly sanctuary honors former Brighton teacher

Posted 1:01 a.m. Monday

— Each year, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate through the United States to their winter homes in Mexico and select spots in southern California.

The lucky ones find sanctuary on their journey south; others just don't complete the trip, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus (http://bit.ly/2cGZUu8 ) reported.

This year, Monarchs have a place to rest and eat in Brighton, thanks to a generous donation from the family of a former Brighton elementary school teacher.

Shirley's Monarch Shelter, located in Millie's Garden at the Brighton District Library, was named after Shirley Shill, a former West Elementary School teacher and founder of School Bell Daycare Center. Shill passed away five years ago. Her sister, Beverly Barber, still lives in Brighton.

"Her family, friends, children and reading were passions in her life, and the butterfly symbolized freedom and rebirth for Aunt Shirley," said Bev Barton, Shill's niece.

Barber, Barton and other members of Shill's family honored her memory by sponsoring the certification of a Monarch waystation, offering children's programs in the garden and purchasing a sculpted butterfly-shaped chair for the half-acre garden, which is located on the southwest side of the library.

To gain certification from Monarch Watch, advanced master gardener Jane Reed grew milkweed plants, the only plant that Monarch caterpillars eat; added marigold, zinnia, butterfly bush, phlox and other nectar plants; established an area of at least 100 square feet with six or more hours of sunlight per day; provided shelter from predators; and created a pesticide-free site for the migrating butterflies.

"It's exciting to be able to gain certification at a time when Monarch butterfly numbers are dropping at an alarming rate," Reed said. "This new waystation will help sustain the Monarch, thus providing a better chance for survival."

The library became a certified wildlife habitat in 2011, providing the four basic elements that birds, butterflies and other wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young. Millie's garden is part of the library's 10-acre wildlife preserve.

"I'm grateful that we do have the land and an opportunity to provide a waystation for the monarch butterflies," said Cindy Mack, the library's director. "We are indebted to our volunteers who help manage and maintain the gardens.

"I'm excited to see the future improvement projects in the garden," she added.

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