10 Rising Hearts: Student Makes the Journey Easier for Monarch Butterflies

We are featuring students making a difference here in East Tennessee in our series called 10 Rising Hearts.

She has always appreciated butterflies.

"I just think they are really beautiful and majestic creatures that we need to help conserve," Bella Fishman said. "When I was in second grade I began raising butterflies in my house. And that really made me interested in how the butterflies kind of grew and migrated and that made me want to do something to help Monarch butterflies."

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Now Bellla is in 8th grade and she has a passion for their plight.

"When they make their journey from Canada to Mexico the Monarch butterflies don't have enough milkweed to eat on the way," she said.

She is making their journey a little easier. Monarchs are the focus of her year-long portfolio project here at the Episcopal School of Knoxville. She interviewed Monarch migration experts and took these photographs to show off the beauty of butterflies. And she will start Monarch Waystations filled with milkweed at two locations in Knoxville.

Raised beds are a Monarch Waystation at ESK and part of a program for first grade students. They raise caterpillars, watch them become butterflies, tag them, and release them.

"This is a place where Monarchs migrate north in the spring probably in about a month and a half and a place where Monarchs will migrate back down on the way to Mexico. We see some come through usually in October some time," Chris Bipshop said.

Chris Bishop teaches those first graders and is also Bella's advisor for her portfolio project.

"She took the ball and ran with it. She was amazing. What she accomplished was amazing," he said.

Bella said, "I am making a little milkweed garden and registering the Knoxville Zoo and the Muse."

She plans to put up plaques at the two Monarch Waystations she's establishing at the Zoo and at the Muse.

"I am planting the milkweed at my house. And I am going to plant it at the Knoxville Zoo and the Muse in April," she said.

Bella has blossomed into a butterfly advocate.

"Particularly with what she has done in the community with the Muse and the Zoo and helping them establish their own Waystations and getting them excited about being part of the Monarch program. My thought was I should have done that years ago and she did it in the course of about three months. Very impressive," her teacher said.

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Bella said, "I hope that other people will be inspired to plant gardens at their own homes."