Campus Garden Nears Completion


Amara Whited, Reporter

Mr. Aaron Batterbee and the field biology classes have planted a new garden just outside the ATC building. This new addition to the campus is intended for pollinating insects, like bees and butterflies.


“I’ve wanted to have a pollinator garden,” Mr. Batterbee said. “Butterflies and bees and insects get a bad rep.” 


The garden has been planted by students in Mr. Batterbee’s field biology classes. The plants currently in the garden are all native grasses and flowers to Kansas wildlife. As of October 11th, the garden is only 80% finished, with a promising future ahead.


“Every class has loved it, every class that I taught, if I said ‘Let’s go out and plant this,’ they wanna go out.” Mr. Batterbee said.


For Mr. Batterbee, the future of the garden is a place of respite and learning. In all the hustle and bustle of daily life, we don’t leave any time for ourselves. Mr. Batterbee wants to change this.


“We’re getting kids outside,” Mr. Batterbee said. “Everybody’s inside with a mask on, and I know how that makes people feel…I just want it to be a place where you can go and forget about those kinds of things.” 


The garden couldn’t have been done alone. Along with the help of Mr. Batterbee’s field biology classes, Mr. Robert Barnhill helped plant the grasses and flowers. The science department as a whole worked together to make the ideas real.


“I was out there with Mr. Batterbee while many of his students were raking, digging, and planting.” Mr. Barnhill said.


It was said that Mr. Barnhill had donated plants to assist in the beginning, but according to Mr. Barnhill, that is not true. While he did not donate plants to the cause, his passion for the environment is undeniable.


“Mr. Batterbee brought me into the idea and I absolutely loved it because I really enjoy plants,” Mr. Barnhill said. “I’ve worked for nurseries for many years in the past.” 


Mr. Batterbee is not alone in his enjoyment of nature. The desire to raise awareness of the role plants play in the environment is shared by Mr. Barnhill as well.


“I want them to…understand the importance of having plants around,” Mr. Barnhill said. “The fact that it will help the diversity of the ecosystem, and I think it’s gonna be a great learning experience, as well.” 


Although not formally completed yet, the future of the garden is already in the minds of those involved.


“We’re looking at a potential need for replanting, but I’d say after two or three years it will be very well established and should be thriving,” Mr. Barnhill said.


GEHS did not finance this project by themselves. A third party interested in the biodiversity of the lower Midwest matched the contributions the school made themselves.


“It was funded both by the school and an outside source…The outside source was willing to donate if the school itself had a buy-in and decided to go through with it,” Mr. Barnhill said.


Soon, the garden will be a great space for outdoor teaching, rest, and social opportunities. For now, the garden by the ATC is still able to be visited.