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Axe Library celebrates Earth Week with DIY pollinator seedling kits

Earth Week is celebrated each April, leading up to and including Earth Day which is April 22. Groups and organizations around campus are hosting events to celebrate the week. To play their part for Earth Week, The Leonard H. Axe Library offered DIY pollinator seedling kits beginning at 9 a.m., Wednesday April 21. on the first floor of the library. 

“It’s one of the things the library services has been doing for a few years now, we’ve partnered with the city in the past or student organizations to talk about the importance within the Earth Day event and Earth Week event with things like pollinators, and things like our effort to maintain our food chain,” said Jorge Leon, Learning Outreach Librarian and Associate Professor. “For me, it’s a small token item that most people don’t think about, how what you grow in your backyard helps pollinators and helps our food chain.” 

This year’s project was focused on Monarch butterflies, which are on the waiting list for the Endangered Species Act, and the importance of planting and providing them the necessary plants to feed and leave their larvae. Leon came up with the idea based on his own passion for gardening and supporting pollinators. 

“So, it’s something we can educate more people on,” Leon said. “To be fair, it’s an area that’s a little bit of a passion of mine. I like (gardening), it’s an area that I like supporting and so I usually try and make sure I have a way of channeling some of the things I’m passionate about into projects.” 

A table was set up with pre-packaged bags that included soil, seeds, peat pots, and everything needed to grow Milkweed or other pollinator plants. Milkweed is a necessary plant for Monarch butterflies as they feed from the plant and serves as a nesting place for their larvae. 

“I wanted to showcase that they’re something that people can either grow milkweed on their own, so the kits have soil and seeds that the monarch butterflies leave their larva to grow in and feed from, or they can take an approach like using seed bombs that are created with soil, clay, seeds, something that can be then thrown out into fields and as rains fall they help them crack open and the seeds start to grow into little seedlings,” Leon said. 

Luke Matteoni, freshman in computer information systems, works at the Axe Library and thought it was important that the library have a table set up for Earth Week, as it gives people an opportunity to learn about issues relevant to the planet. 

“It makes people more aware of it,” Matteoni said. “Seeing this, I never really knew about it until I saw it today and learned about it more. You can look at what’s going on.” 

Leon hopes that by having the kits premade, it will help people see how easy it is to support wildlife. 

“This is one where thinking about for most people, how do you support something so big can be challenging,” Leon said. “But it really is something easy to sit down and go ‘we can put some seeds in the backyard and leave an area we’re not going to mow so those plants are protected.’ We’re going to make sure we have some plants that are going to benefit pollinators…” 

Leon also hopes that those who stop by the table will realize how even small actions are important when it comes to benefiting the environment. 

“…I think it’s because we get stuck in our day-to-day thinking about these large activities and the more we stop and think about small changes that we each can do, whether it’s recycling, or talking about lights we can keep off, or even small items that we can do at home to grow things that are local that can help our local pollinators,” Leon said. “Those are small steps we can do where we can feel like we’re contributing and find a way to connect to those bigger projects.” 

The table and kits also included flyers with information about planting the seeds as well as resources to research more about Monarch butterflies.  

Heaven Hutson, junior in biology, found the prepackaged bags and information helpful. 

“…I think it’s nice they’re making it easy and accessible to students that they can grab it and go but also it gives a lot of information about how to grow the seeds and contribute,” Hutson said. “It was helpful how (Leon)… that he was keeping an eye on the table and coming to give information to people who were spectating.”   

The seed kits were available for pickup throughout the Library hours, until supplies run out. 

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