Irmo Middle School receives research grant from Lowes for Monarch Migration

May 24, 2016

IRMO, SC – Irmo Middle School (IMS) has received a $2,425.00 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant for students to continue their research project titled Monarch and Milkweed Migration. The grant was based on the goals of creating the largest plot of milkweed in the state, distributing milkweed to the community for planting, and educating others about the plight of the Monarch butterfly, which depends primarily on the milkweed plant.

According to seventh grade science teacher Will Green, who initiated the Monarch project two years ago, the study started at the basics, with students conducting research on critical migration issues facing the Monarch.

“The students found substantial data to back the plight of the Monarch,” he explained. “The Monarch butterfly is a species that has experienced significant decline over the last several years and is close to being listed as endangered.”

The numbers of Monarchs migrating between Canada and Mexico have declined by 97% due to a variety of factors related to the destruction of critical habitat.

“The initial research by the students made them think that they could be doing something about this and they found some really practical ways they could take action and make a difference.” Green said.

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Photo 1: A close up of Milkweed currently growing in Irmo Middle’s Milkweed garden.

Photo 2: Seventh Grade Science Teacher Will Green, from Irmo Middle School, stands in front of the school’s Milkweed Garden. 


Seventh grade students at IMS are creating a garden that features two native species of milkweed. Students will use this garden to attract Monarchs and then tag the butterflies to assist in the scientific study of the species. This garden will engage students in problem-based learning experiences that include data collection of Monarch populations, plant growth rate, and a variety of horticultural opportunities.

“When students are engaged in authentic learning, they are able to master core knowledge and skills, collaborate with their peers, and produce high quality work,” said Robert Jackson, principal of Irmo Middle School. “These long-term, in-depth studies offer real-world connections that inspire students toward higher levels of academic achievement.”

The garden and associated learning opportunities have already garnered partnerships and support from the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, SC Center for Science Education, a local elementary school, parents and volunteers, and the Town of Irmo.

Students are motivated to take this project to the community by presenting their learning to the Town Council, inviting the public in for a screening of an educational movie about the plight of the Monarchs, giving away milkweed seeds at the community farmer’s market, and posting educational signs around the community. Students will also be growing milkweed plants from seed in the school’s greenhouse to respond to the demand from the community for plants. A local nursery has expressed interest in purchasing milkweed plants from the school because of high demand in the region. Mr. Green is hoping that other nurseries will see the school as a resource, which, in turn, will continue to fund expansion of the garden for future students.

“Our school and community will greatly benefit from this grant. We wish to thank our friends at Lowes for generously supporting this important project,” said Principal Jackson.

All K-12 public schools in the United States are eligible for the Toolbox for Education program. More information is available at