Gloria Brooks, a kindergarten teacher at SouthShore Montessori School, recently received the National Harmony Hero award for her Tampa Bay Monarch Project.
The Harmony Hero Award Program is part of EarthKind’s 2021 Year of the Monarch national initiative. Through a rigorous nomination and selection process, the nation’s leading plant-based pest prevention brand is recognizing one K-12 teacher across the country each month who is committed to implementing eco education initiatives around monarch butterflies into their curriculum while focusing on getting kids outdoors and connected to nature at an impressionable age.
Brooks, who teaches over 50 students in the program, created the Tampa Bay Monarch Project to educate her students and her community on the threat to the monarch butterflies. Brooks has taught her students to grow and nurture gardens, care for caterpillars and raise dozens of monarchs in their milkweed gardens.
“The most important takeaway from my monarch program is my students’ love and respect for nature. We’ve learned about influential conservationists, studied and observed the butterfly life cycle and cared for our beautiful gardens and caterpillars. But the children’s love for animals and plants has been the most rewarding,” commented Brooks.
In addition to educating and inspiring students to have a love for nature at an early age, Brooks’ goal is to encourage others to plant milkweed, the main food source for monarch butterflies, leading her to often share tips and resources on social media to guide others in the right direction. Her efforts have inspired friends, family and neighbors to create their own monarch gardens at home. Brooks even received a grant to plant monarch gardens in two schools for children with special needs.
Each recognized Harmony Hero teacher will receive complimentary in-service training from an entomologist on integrated pest management practices for their school, helping them become safer, healthier places. They’ll also receive sustainable product essentials for eco education and outdoor adventures and will be considered for the grand prize of sending one teacher and three guests on an all-expense paid trip to Mexico in March 2022 to visit the Kingdom of the Monarchs habitat, where they will witness the amazing migration of millions of butterflies.
EarthKind has just published Gloria Brooks’ Harmony Hero video, which can be found on YouTube by searching ‘Butterfly Gardens Help Kids Learn About the Monarch Migration.’