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20140425 National-Butterfly-Center-Arbor-Day SD 0187MISSION—Students were elbow-deep in potting soil early Friday morning at Midkiff Elementary. Giggling and pointing out bugs in the lawn, all grade levels participated in planting flowers on the campus borders.

Principal Dora A. Villalobos said the campus has participated in planting flowers for the last 11 years on Arbor Day.

“This is a program that has been going since Midkiff’s inception. Mr. Midkiff had a love for planting and keeping the earth full of trees,” Villalobos said. “Now it really has expanded. It is full force as far as the degree of the amount of plants.”

This year, the City of Palmhurst donated 25 oak trees to the campus. Councilmen Ruben De Leon and Robert A. Salinas were present to plant the first tree.

“It’s the city’s 50th anniversary, and we wanted to celebrate that with the community,” said Lori A. Lopez, city manager. “We wanted to start with our schools; we also donated another 25 oak trees to Cantu Middle School.”

Friday, children ran around the councilmen and city manager, while watering their newly placed flowers. With hundreds of plants going into the ground, Villalobos said it was also done through the assistance of parents.

“All my plants are donated by parents,” Villalobos said. “From the potting soil, to the roses, to shrubs, plants and trees. Everything you see here has been donated by the community.”

A Midkiff area also has grown in the back of the campus that only holds rose bushes. Villalobos said roses were the favorite plant of Midkiff.

Planting is the hands-on portion of the day for students. The principal explained students go back to their classrooms to either write about the project or do extra research on a specific plant. She added presentation boards would be posted as well on the plant growth process.

Also Friday, the National Butterfly Center also celebrated Arbor Day with the planting of more than 100 trees on their property. Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright said there was a tremendous turn out as community members were invited to help the center with the addition.

“This was the first time the NBC had done an event like this, and it all commemorated the official groundbreaking of our next phase of development,” Wright said.

The center will soon be home to a brand-new Texas Butterfly Garden, which will include a sunken garden, terraced gardens and botanical beds for butterflies. A Texas Savana Trails Ayenia Refugium also is in the works, and it will include five acres of assorted butterfly plants, including the Texas Ayenia. The project is coming to fruition through a partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The last phase of the construction project will include an outdoor classroom and butterfly conservatory.

The trees planted are a perpendicular extension of the center’s hackberry trail, this will provide an additional wind break across 30 acres, Wright said.

“It will be a sheltered fly way for woodland butterflies and create more of a habitat for bugs,” Wright said. “Most importantly, this is additional habitat for butterflies, birds, and bugs, which are the building blocks for all life on planet earth.”

The director added many other animals take advantage of the center’s foliage, including armadillos, lizards, mice, snakes, bobcats and coyotes.

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