Forestry Middle School #105

Zitacuaro, Mexico

The Forestry Middle School located in the Community of Valle Verde just west of the Town of Zitácuaro currently participates in the Monarch Sister Schools Program through a series of actions to protect and conserve the habitat of the Monarch Butterfly.

1) A milkweed garden, with the support of Prof. Julieta Arrendondo Flores and Program Coordinator Jesús Arriaga, in addition to a group of 40 students (ages 12 and 13) from the 1st Forestry Section of the school, who plant, water, prune and, in general, maintain the garden in good shape. The milkweed garden is 20 meters long and 3 meters wide, with a total of 30 milkweed plants, 10 colorful nectar-producing plants and 6 medicinal plants that help keep the garden disease-free.

2) A student-operated Tree Nursery. Another teacher, Prof. Enrique, is responsible for Forestry Technology subject matter and receives support from Program Coordinator Jesús Arriaga in overseeing tree sapling production chain from seed germination and repotting of seedlings to planting of the baby trees, with the help of 3 groups of forestry students who are responsible for taking care of the tree nursery operation at the school.

3) Environmental Education Workshops. The teachers also allow Program Coordinator Jesús Arriaga Vázquez to conduct environmental education workshop in their classrooms, which incorporate art-based activities including drawing and painting to heighten their perception and appreciation of nature and also theater to dramatize environmental issues.

4) Conservation Activities. The Forestry Middle School does an annual reforestation project involving students, their parents and other local community members to reforest a key area within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve on the comunal lands of the San Francisco Curungueo indigenous community in the “municipio” (county) of Zitácuaro in the State of Michoacán. In June 2016, 80 students and 4 teachers planted 500 trees on the mountainside of the community of Tenencia de Cresencio Morales, with the support of technical support and oversight of personal from our partner organization, ALTERNARE.

5) Cultural Activities. In early March of each year, the school normally participates in a major cultural highlight, the National Monarch Butterfly Festival organized by our Program Coordinator Jesús Arriaga, which includes music and dance performances, as well as a large community parade with local students, dance groups, civic leaders, etc.


St. Francis Neighborhood Center

Baltimore, Maryland

St. Francis Neighborhood Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), community based organization in the Reservoir Hill area of Baltimore. Founded in 1963 as an outreach center for two local churches, was incorporated in 1972 as a neighborhood nonprofit corporation, independent of any church affiliation. Due to its unwavering dedication, the Center has become an iconic presence within the Reservoir Hill community.

In the Fall of 2015, educators from the center joined us at our annual curriculum workshop to learn more about raising monarchs in the classroom. These teachers took that knowledge back to the classroom where students in their after school program were able to successfully raise, tag, and release monarchs.Together with the Center we have plans to install a pollinator habitat garden in the Fall of 2016.

Pueblo Vista Elementary School

Napa, California


Pueblo Vista is a public Dual Immersion magnet school in the Napa Valley Unified School District that offers children a rigorous and engaging program integrating language and environmental sciences with all areas of their curriculum

Assemblies, field trips, and hands-on projects provide experiences that connect students to their community and build a solid academic foundation.  The school garden, science lab, computer lab, and community partners provide unique opportunities for learning.

During their time with MSSP, Pueblo Vista has participated in our Cultural Exchange program. Students at Pueblo Vista communicate via Skype with their Mexican Sister School in Michoacan.

Springhill Lake Elementary School

Greenbelt, Maryland

Springhill Lake Elementary School a Prince George's County public school located in Greenbelt, Maryland and is home to over 800 students in grades K thru 5.

Springhill Lake has a beautiful pollinator garden located right at the entrance of the school. The garden consist of 5 beds that are regularly maintained by volunteers from the Greenbelt Rotary Club. Springhill Lake is kind enough to hold our Annual Curriculum Workshop each year for our participating teachers.



H.D. Cooke Elementary School

Washington, DC

H.D. Cooke Elementary School is part of the DC Public School system, located in Northwest. Thanks to a generous donor, Tracy Loh, and support from community members such as Jeff Wilkes we were able to plant a native pollinator garden in the Spring of 2010. With the help of Chesapeake Natives', Chris Puttock and Rochelle Bartolomei, the garden was designed and planted!

The following school year participating teachers attended our annual curriculum workshop and implemented the Monarchs and More curriculum in their own classrooms.

In 2013 we began a partnership with KidPower Inc. KidPower inspires youth leadership by promoting academic advancement, physical and emotional wellness, and positive civic engagement in underserved communities throughout the District of Columbia. Currently, Kid Power’s after-school and summer programs serve 425 elementary and middle school students at Title 1 DC Public Schools. Kid Power serves an additional 1,200 students at 5 DCPS schools with monthly in-school VeggieTime science lessons.

Through our partnership with KidPower, we were awarded a grant from the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. This allowed students to be participate in hands on lessons in both the edible and pollinator gardens. Additionally students were able to partner with a sister school in Mexico.

In the 2016-2017 school year students will continue to partner with their Mexican sister school.

Jamestown Elementary School

Arlington, Virginia

Jamestown Elementary School, located in Arlington, Virginia, is a public school serving grades Kindergarten-Fifth. Jamestown joined our program in the Fall of 2015. The majority of their third grade team as well as their environmental programs educator, Mary Van Dyke, attended our workshop. In addition to the workshop, Jamestown was our first school to receive a follow-up session with our workshop facilitator, Louise Hill. This session addressed questions teachers had from the workshop and gave the educators a chance to meet one-on-one with Louise. We look forward to hosting many more of these sessions in the future.

Jamestown has multiple pollinator habitat and edible gardens around their campus which are maintained by Mary Van Dyke as well as many parent and teacher volunteers.

In the 2016-2017 school year teachers at Jamestown plan to work closely with their Spanish Language teacher to implement our cultural exchange program in multiple classrooms.

Somerset Intermediate School

Westover, Maryland


Somerset Intermediate School is located in Westover, Maryland on the Eastern Shore and serves grades sixth-eighth. The school is part of the Somerset County Public School system. The mission of Somerset Intermediate is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for success in the global and technologically complex society in which they live.

Somerset Intermediate joined MSSP in the Fall of 2014 thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. This grant allowed us to plant a Pollinator Habitat Garden in the front of the school with over 150 native plants. This planting was completed by students from the Green Thumb Club, led by Mr. Rush.

Somerset Intermediate has been active with their Sister School in Mexico. The students have sent each other PenPal letters and have talked over Skype.

Somerset plans to continue maintaining their garden and interacting with their Sister School in the 2016-2017 school year.

Woodson Elementary School

Crisfield, Maryland


Woodson Elementary School is located in Crisfield, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. The school serves almost 600 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten-Fifth and is part of the Somserset County Public School System.

Woodson joined MSSP in the Fall of 2014 thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. This grant allowed us to plant 150 plants in two different plots on Woodson's campus. Students from two third grade classes helped with the planting. In the spring of 2016 students prepared a presentation about their hometown of Crisfield and presented it to their Sister School Leona Vicario.

In the 2016-2017 school year students hope to interact more with their Sister School as part of MSSP's cultural exchange program.

Naval Academy Primary School

Annapolis, Maryland

The Naval Academy Primary School (NAPS) is located in Annapolis, Maryland. NAPS' mission is focused on the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development of children from the Annapolis military community. NAPS provides a structured and nurturing environment that recognizes and acts upon the unique needs and circumstances of these children, many of whom will attend a number of schools, both in the United States and abroad during their academic careers. Many of the faculty and staff are military spouses and parents who are skilled at supporting the military child's transition to a new school and community with new teachers and friends. The overall mission is to provide a structured and nurturing environment where all of NAPS' students can develop to their fullest potential and develop a solid foundation to be successful in middle school, high school, and beyond.

NAPS joined the Monarch Sister Schools Program in the Spring of 2015, thanks to their supportive Director, Devon Clouse, and Resource Teacher, Leslie Mata. NAPS worked closely with MSSP to develop a one of a kind garden for the front of their school. On May 9th, 2015 a large group of teachers, parents, and students helped plant in over 150 native plants in NAPS Pollinator Habitat Garden. The garden at NAPS is shaped like an anchor, as the anchor is in the schools logo and also shows support for the Navy. The garden is thriving in Annapolis and even had both monarch caterpillars and butterflies in the Summer of 2015.

NAPS plans to integrate MSSP's Cultural Exchange program into their classrooms in the 2016-2017 school year.


Leona Vicario Primary School

Michoacan, Mexico

‘Leona Vicario’ Rural Primary School was the first Mexican primary school to be adopted as a “Sister School” of U.S. school. Their first partner in the United Sates was the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School, a public school in Montgomery County, MD, with a significant Hispanic student population. The partnership between the two schools was made possible thanks to funds raised in Partnership with the Takoma Park / Silver Spring Food Cooperative in mid 2009, which covered the adoption fee of $250.

The relationship between the two schools was officially launched on September 24th, 2009 when William Dent, Natural Partners Executive Director,  and Betty Soláris, Director of our local partner Biocenosis, personally delivered to the Director of the Leona Vicario a letter in Spanish from New Hampshire Estates ES with photos of the students in the participating classes. The letter was read by the Director to students at his school.

Biocenosis is a key nonprofit partners of the Monarch Sister Schools Program in Mexico, along with Alternare, and has been instrumental in implementing Program activities locally. These include not only ‘PenPal’ correspondence but environmental education and the management of schoolyard based tree nurseries and related reforestation activities with the students and their parents.

To date Leona Vicario Primary School has Skyped and exchanged PenPal letters with over 5 MSSP schools in the United States.


St. Francis of Assisi School

Baltimore, Maryland

The St. Francis of Assisi School is located at 3617 Harford Road, in the north Baltimore suburb of Belair Edison. The school which serves grades Kindergarten-Eighth has a Monarch team of teachers, Principal Rebecca Malone , and a number of parents led by parent liaison, Alex Gammon.

Their pollinator habitat garden, planted in the Fall of 2009, doubled the total area of the school’s Pollinator Habitat Garden to 420 square feet. The additional area of the garden was designed by Dr. Christopher Puttock of Chesapeake Natives Inc. The Rotary Club of Baltimore was the major financial sponsor of St. Francis of Assisi School's involvement in the Monarch Sister School Program as well as the expansion of the school’s Pollinator Habitat Garden.

On Saturday August 29, 2009, the additional beds to expand the garden were “dug in” by a volunteer team of parents, teachers, Baltimore Rotarians, and SFA students. All plants used in the garden were from original Maryland wild sources, purchased from Chesapeake Natives, Inc. These native plants were delivered on September 1 and 3, 2009, and planted by students from Grades 3-6 classes in the following days under the supervision of principal at the time, Ms. Rutter, and Dr. Puttock.

The St. Francis of Assisi School partners with the Rotary Club of Baltimore and SFA parents for the sustaining maintenance of the Pollinator Habitat Garden.

Morgantown Learning Academy

Morgantown, West Virginia

Morgantown Learning Academy (MLA) is an incorporated, non-church affiliated, non-profit private school. The school was established in 1963 and has expanded to include preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1 - 8. The purpose of Morgantown Learning Academy is to provide an alternative education of the highest quality for children of all racial, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds. The MLA educational program is based on a child-centered philosophy that is committed to teaching children in the ways they learn best.

MLA joined MSSP in January, 2015. Shortly after enrolling in our program MLA began implementing the "Monarchs and More" curriculum in their classrooms. Students also began writing letters and Skyping with their Sister School, Leona Vicario. In the Spring of 2015 MLA also expanded their "Wild Yards" area with the addition of a Pollinator Habitat Garden.

A special aspect of this project is that the MSSP project leader at MLA is also the Spanish teacher, so participating students get to experience interdisciplinary learning across Environmental Science, Spanish, Art, and service learning. Students and parents at MLA and the Mountain SOL as well as the Master Naturalists of Morgantown have collaborated on this project.

Middle school students from MLA have had very positive reactions to their new knowledge about the monarch, saying "It's amazing how one generation of Monarch Butterflies is stronger than others to travel farther distances"(grade 6). Everyone agrees working with a school in another country is cool no matter what the circumstances. Firstly, you are exposed to a whole different culture and world that you have never known. Secondly, there will be kids who will want to know about your life, and you will realize how different and special your life is compared to the kids in a different country. Who, might have the same thought. Finally you can make new friends and find new opportunities.

MLA will continue to implement curriculum, maintain their gardens, and correspond with their Sister School in the 2016-2017 school year.



Marie Reed Elementary School

Washington, DC

In the Spring 2010, Dr. Christopher Puttock of Chesapeake Natives Inc. designed and guided the planting of 10 new gardens, including this one at the Marie Reed Learning Center in Washington, DC.

First Lady Michelle Obama and two dozen Congressional spouses joined students at Marie Reed on April 29, 2010 to plant a Monarch Habitat Garden and create an outdoor classroom where they can learn about the Monarch’s habitat, life cycle and migration.

Marie Reed has since maintained both their Pollinator Habitat Garden and their edible gardens with the help of teachers, students, parents, and community members. The school is currently going through a renovation process which includes relocation of the gardens.

John Burroughs Elementary School

Washington, DC

John Burroughs Elementary School is located in North East DC and was one of the first schools MSSP partnered with due to one of our dedicated board members, Donnie Shaw, who is very active in the JBES community.

John Burroughs Elementary School is a STEM school, this means they focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Burroughs has a school-wide focus on data-driven instruction so that teachers strategically pinpoint challenges on all levels enabling all learners to succeed. They utilize the Engineering Design Process to guide instruction, to solve problems through critical thinking and inquiry-based analysis. Their STEM model combined with the Engineering Design Process gives students the edge they need to improve academic achievement in a BIG way.

JBES along with MSSP was awarded a School Garden Grant from The DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the Spring of 2015. This garden not only allowed us to expand on the existing garden but we were also able to hire our very first School Garden Coordinator, Karen Davison. Karen was initially placed at JBES as a Food Corps Service member. Karen's role was to implement edible garden and nutritional curriculum. Thanks to the OSSE grant Karen was able to stay at JBES and continue implementing that curriciulum along with the Monarchs and More curriculum.

Because of our ability to hire Karen as a SGC, every grade level at JBES was involved in the edible and pollinator garden. By the end of the 2016 school year a teacher and student survey revealed the majority of the JBES community was comfortable learning and teaching in the gardens.

We look forward to the 2016-2017 school year at JBES. JBES plans to incorporate our cultural exchange program into their curriculum with the help of their Spanish language teacher.