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KultureCity and The Gardens partner for Earth Day celebration

published: 04/11/2017

KultureCity and The Gardens partner for Earth Day celebration

by: Plant Adventures Coordinator Brooke McMinn

I have this friend. Let's call her Em. Em has a child with severe autism. She pours super-hero like amounts of energy into working with her child for small but powerful achievements, like saying a new word, or making it through a shopping trip. Things like that seem minor to many of us, but to Em and so many other families like hers, they are significant milestones requiring patience and persistence. Em also devotes her time to advocating for her son and other children living with autism. That advocacy is how I came to learn of an organization called KultureCity and how they help organizations like ours be more accommodating to families like Em's.

Who is KultureCity?

KultureCity, one of USA Today's 2016 Top Nonprofits in the U.S., is a Birmingham based, impact driven nonprofit focused on helping autistic individuals realize their potential by providing tangible help and equipping businesses and the community to relate to children with autism and their families. "The KultureCity Sensory Friendly Initiative was born out of the desire to help businesses and community organizations better understand the needs of individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The goal is to allow these individuals the ability to see and experience all the things a community has to offer, without being overwhelmed by everything going on around them." - kulturecity.org

What are KultureCity and The Gardens doing together?

In 2016, KultureCity has provided The Gardens with an evidence-based sensory training program to help increase the knowledge base of our staff and volunteers. The training included an initial assessment of staff knowledge relating to autistic individuals, in-person training for staff by a licensed occupational therapist, access to training videos to be used with new or seasonal staff and volunteers and modification recommendations. KultureCity will also provide yearly follow up for training purposes.

Following the staff training, KultureCity performed a site assessment for The Gardens. Their assessment included a facilities walk-through, programs evaluation, intake form assessment and further modification recommendations related to these topics. The site assessment included recommendations for placements of co-branded signage which will convey our partnership to visitors to The Gardens upon their arrival at main entrances and designate "Quiet Space" and "Headphone Zone" areas throughout. The Gardens will also receive recognition on the KultureCity website (kulturecity.org) as a sensory friendly partner organization.

What happens next?

On Saturday, April 22, as part of our annual Earth Day at The Gardens celebration, The Gardens will host a Sensory Friendly Family Event to officially introduce its' partnership with KultureCity. Families will be provided with updated maps of The Gardens grounds indicating the locations of our designated "Quiet Spaces" and "Headphone Zones" to better plan a walk through our collections. Additionally and as requested KultureCity will provide grab-and-go sensory bags for families to borrow during their visit to The Gardens. These sensory bags will contain items like a fidget toy, a non-verbal communication card and noise-cancelling headphones. Come join us to learn how The Gardens and KultureCity are working together to allow individuals with autism and other sensory needs, as well as their families, the ability to see and experience all that The Gardens has to offer.

For more information about KultureCity please visit kulturecity.org. Earth Day at The Gardens is Alabama's longest running Earth Day celebration. This year's event will be on April 22 from 11-4 p.m. and will honor the legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver. Admission is free. For more information about Alabama's longest running Earth Day celebration, visit www.bbgardens.org/earthday.


About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

 


Girl Scouts maintain Monarch Waystation at The Gardens

published: 03/30/2017

Girl Scouts maintain Monarch Waystation at The Gardens

Girl Scout Troop #31017 at Birmingham Botanical Gardens maintains a Monarch Waystation. A Monarch Waystation is a "site which provides milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies [Danaus plexippus] as they migrate through North America." Official Monarch Waystations are certified and registered by an organization called Monarch Watch which is a cooperative network of students, teachers, volunteers and researchers dedicated to the study of the Monarch butterfly.

Why do we need Monarch Waystations? Every year in the fall there are millions of monarch butterflies (up to 100 million) which migrate all the way from the northern United States and even Canada down to California and Mexico where they will overwinter until weather conditions are suitable to return north in the spring. This "monarch migration" is among the greatest natural wonders of the world! But every year, the butterfly numbers decline as their habitat is threatened and reduced throughout North America. Their habitat is formed by a specific plant group in the genus Asclepias called milkweeds. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed plants as breeding grounds during the spring and summer. Without them they would not be able to produce the consecutive generations which ultimately culminate in the fall migration. Monarch larvae depend on Milkweeds as their sole host plant, consuming their leaves which are poisonous to other animals and, in turn, cause the monarchs to become poisonous to predators. Adult monarchs depend on the nectar from milkweed flowers to sustain them throughout their long journey. Alarmingly, milkweeds and other important nectar sources are in decline due to human activities such as development and the use of herbicides on roadsides, pastures and croplands. Monarch Watch estimates that "development (subdivisions, factories, shopping centers, etc.) in the U.S. is consuming habitats for monarchs and other wildlife at a rate of 6,000 acres per day - that's 2.2 million acres each year, the area of Delaware and Rhode Island combined!"

Without major efforts to restore milkweed plants in as many locations as possible, the monarch population is doomed to decline to even lower levels, possibly to be lost entirely. This is where Monarch Watch and the Monarch Waystation program come in. Monarch Waystations create, conserve and protect monarch habitats along roadsides, in home gardens, at businesses, schools, nature centers, parks and even unused plots of land an attempt to offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources. Creating and maintaining a Monarch Waystation has allowed The Gardens to contribute to monarch conservation and help to assure the preservation of the species and spectacular phenomenon that is the monarch migration. But The Gardens didn't do it alone.

The Gardens of Inverness are owed credit for taking the initiative to begin the certification process for the Pollinator Display Area at The Gardens by working in partnership with Girl Scout Troop #31017. The numerous contributions of the Gardens of Inverness included educating scouts on invasive plant species, working with the scouts to weed the existing garden area in preparation for planting, selecting and purchasing seeds, educating scouts on proper seeding techniques, donating garden gloves for the scouts, purchasing and awarding Native Plants Badges for scouts through the National Garden Clubs 'Nurture the Earth: Plant Natives' program, participating in The Gardens' 2016 Butterfly Awareness Day and even spreading the word about our partnership at the National Garden Club District III meeting and state-wide Garden Club Convention. Thanks to partnerships with outstanding organizations like Gardens of Inverness and the Girl Scouts, everyone can have a greater impact within the community and on the world around us.


About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

 


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