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Artist spreads wings volunteering at 'magic garden'

Posted at 7:40 AM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 07:40:47-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Walking through the Monarch Butterfly garden at Pocahontas State Park, you can tell right away that Jennifer Ambs knows her plants.

“This plant right here is common milkweed. It's Asclepias-syriaca."

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But she really knows her butterflies.

"This plant, milkweed, is the only plant that Monarch Butterfly larvae feed on."

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The local artist spreads her wings by volunteering here.

She also incorporates some of what she sees into her artwork.

No matter your age, she would love to share what she learned from her time in the horticulture industry and from entomology courses.

"Well, if I was a parent and I was bringing my kid to this garden, I would first of all want to look for Monarch caterpillars," she suggested. "You can see that it's been chewing on the milkweed plant here and a couple of other places."

Chief Ranger of Visitor Experience Rebecca Whalen says you can learn a lot from observation and learning from the other naturalists who volunteer here.

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"While you're checking out the monarchs, you might see a wasp or a praying mantis," Whalen said. “Or you might see a bird. And those things can empower you to learn more about the natural world around you."

“The Monarch is the gateway bug," Ambs said. "Coming to a butterfly garden opens the gateway to learn and appreciate other animals or other insects more."

Kids can literally get in touch with nature. Who knew that butterflies are Building Better Minds?

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