Rain garden brings science to Park Avenue Preschool

Friday, May 20, 2011 | 5:14 p.m. CDT; updated 5:53 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 20, 2011
Rachel Boss and her daughter, Miranda Boss, 4, help lay down stepping stones for the new rain garden at Park Avenue Preschool on Friday. The garden will be used as an educational resource for the school's science program.

COLUMBIA — Miranda Boss might have stayed away from the mud, but she wasn’t afraid to get messy with the paint.

Miranda, 4, spent the morning painting a butterfly house that will be placed in the soon-to-be planted butterfly garden at her preschool. 

The Columbia Metro Rotary Club prepared a rain garden behind the Park Avenue Preschool on Friday morning. The reschool, at 403 Park Ave., was chosen for the rain garden not only for its educational purpose, but as a solution to the school’s drainage problem.

Club members, parents, their children and community members came out to help with the planting. The Creative Days Art Studio also provided face painting for the children and volunteers at the preschool.

Cindy Whaley, the Columbia Metro Rotary Club president, said the organization has long been involved in the education of children in Columbia.

“Every year we give money to the schools to buy books,” Whaley said. “Our members take turns reading to the kids at the different Title 1 preschools in the system.”

The installation of the rain garden was the second phase of this project for the Rotary Club.

“A couple years ago we donated a few trees,” Whaley said. “The point of this project is to help with the ground here, give it use and use it as the start of a science program to help educate the kids.”

Whaley said all the plants in the garden are native to Missouri and the club plans to plant butterfly bushes. With help from the preschool students like Miranda, they also plan to hang hand-painted butterfly houses.

Michelle Merk, a teacher at the preschool, said the outcome of this project will be beneficial to the children and provide them with a unique learning experience.

“Each room has a science area, so this will just be an extension of that,” Merk said. “We’re going to really build the science area up with information about the plants in the garden and any animals or creatures that live in or around the garden.”

Merk said the children are looking forward to using the garden and that it is never too early to start learning science.

“A lot of times people think that science is an older and more advanced area, but the earlier you can expose kids to the subject of science, the better,” she said.

Stephanie Hall’s twin boys attend Park Avenue Preschool and said she has seen an improvement in the school within the last two years. Hall, a Columbia resident, said she believes the addition of the garden will greatly benefit the school.

Whaley said she believes this garden is a good idea because it also provides a learning experience for students all over the community.

“There are some more preschools around here and a day care not too far, so we hope that they’ll take the kids on a walking field trip down here and teach their kids about the garden,” Whaley said.

Merks believes the garden will also help unite the community.

“Activities like this bring the community together and can get involved, even if they don’t have a teaching background,” Merk said. “It’s an experience that involves everyone and all different walks of life.”

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