Law Enforcement volunteers plant imperiled wildflowers
Instead of firearms and handcuffs, volunteers from the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Recruit Class 485⁄487- Night Law were wielding shovels and unloading rescued plants during a spring weekend at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
Wading in mud and water and keeping an eye out for cottonmouths and pygmy rattlesnakes in the wetlands between the refuge’s Visitor Center and Education Building, academy students planted swamp milkweed, few-flower milkweed, and milkweed vine to provide host and food plants for monarch butterflies. They also transplanted over 250 imperiled wetlands plants that were rescued from the U.S. Highway 98 shoulder prior to the construction of the new bike trail.
The students, from Wakulla and Leon Counties, stay busy with work and school in the evenings five days a week, but still were enthusiastic about doing this meaningful project in their community. “I enjoyed being able to help monarch butterflies by planting milkweed,” said recruit Barry Kincl. “I look forward to bringing my boys out here to show them what we planted.”
Taylor Bronson agreed:“I had a lot of fun. I’ve never been to the refuge; but, I can’t wait to go back.”
Refuge staff members Scott Davis and Robin Will coordinated the volunteer event and were impressed with the “It was a pleasure to work with these recruits,” Refuge Ranger Robin Will said. “The milkweeds and other wildflowers they planted will provide food for butterflies and other pollinators, plus provide enjoyment to our visitors, for years to come.”
Robin Will, supervisory refuge ranger
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