MONMOUTH COUNTY – At Brookdale Community College, a new garden has opened on campus with the hopes of not only building the butterfly population, but to create a meditation space for students to destress.
The Innovation Network (TIN), a club on campus, had the idea to establish a butterfly garden and successfully opened it this spring. TIN focuses on student collaboration through community service, outreach programs and network opportunities to enhance 21st-century project-based workplace skills.
Brookdale student and president of The Innovation Network Maeve Maguire explained the idea behind the butterfly garden was to provide Brookdale students and visitors a place to unwind from any stresses in life.
“Mental health has been a problem among college students even before the pandemic,” Maguire said. “The pandemic only made an existing problem worse and now a lot of students are struggling from the change, loss, and isolation exacerbated by the pandemic. Originally, the idea was to create a butterfly garden to address their decline. Then the pandemic made it clear that students needed a place to boost their mental health while on campus and I realized that the garden would also make the perfect meditation space.”
The butterfly garden is located outside the Student Life Center. What was once a patch of grass has now transformed into the garden, which features numerous flower boxes aligned in a horseshoe shape.
“I visited other clubs on campus, and I had heard about an idea for a butterfly garden, but no one knew where to start. I attended a few TIN meetings and we started talking about it, and then we began writing up plans for the garden.” Maguire said. “Outside of the Student Life Center is a patch of grass and that’s where it will be. It is shaped like a horseshoe around a brick area, and we will build a raised bed around that. That will give us room for potential expansion and to house educational information. We designed it ourselves because we had to be sure we would be able to build it ourselves.”
The colorful and fragrant flowers were planted in the bed to attract more butterflies to the area, specifically monarchs. Monarch butterflies have been facing a decline in population numbers due to loss of natural habitat, climate change and pesticide usage.
“Originally, the idea was to create a garden to attract butterflies due to the sharp decrease in butterfly populations, but with so many students suffering with anxiety and depression, I knew I wanted to create a garden on campus to provide a place to support, not just butterflies, but students in need.” Maguire said.
The plan is to also use the garden to host meditation and other mindfulness events that will be open to Brookdale students.
Maguire’s efforts were recognized by the Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF) who promotes the important role that nature helps in the health of people and wildlife.
“Numerous studies point to what many of us intrinsically know, that nature helps improve our mental health and overall sense of wellbeing,” MCF states. “The simple act of sitting in a garden has powerful and swift impacts on our central nervous system that can quickly calm a worried mind.”