Students get educated on botany, insects

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

The Academy of Lifelong Learning will be having a class discussing the benefits of having native plants here in Charleston at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Marita Metzke, the program coordinator for the Academy of Lifelong Learning, said the event, “Using Native Plants in Your Landscape,” would look at some of the native plants found in the state and the benefits of having these plants around.

“The purpose of this event is to educate people on the value of using native plants,” Metzke said. “(These are) plants that grow naturally in this area, that haven’t been moved from Florida or Wisconsin or California.”

Some of the native plants to be discussed at the event include coneflowers, butterfly weed and lilies.

Other than a discussion on these native plants, the program will also mention the roles of pollinators, or insects used to help pollinate plant life.

“If you’re interested in the environment, if you want to promote a healthy environment, you want to plant flowers that are native that will attract insects (like) bees and butterflies,” Metzke said. “This promotes a healthy environment for them.”

Metzke also said this program is closer to being considered a botany class, which is different from the academy’s previous events.

“This is obviously related to nature and botany and promoting a healthy environment, a healthy yard, providing food sources for the pollinators,” Metzke said. “Plus the native plants, they return year after year, the native perennials are healthier, they reproduce, they grow bigger. If it’s a native plant, this is the environment they do the best in.”

This is not the first time the academy has created a nature program similar to this one. The University of Illinois Extension services are providing the information about native plants for this program.

“Working with the extension service, they have provided a number of education services for the academy relating to agriculture, food systems, gardening and the environment,” Metzke said.

Unlike other events the academy has had in recent weeks, this event has costs, which will be used for material for the program.

“Academy members are charged $5, so there’ll be some material provided, handouts and that sort of thing,” Metzke said. “The academy may get part of that fee.”

Non-academy members will have to pay $12 for the program.

Metzke also said registration for the event is required, so anyone who wants to get information about the program should call ahead first.

The program was originally scheduled to be at the 4-H Center at the Coles County Fairgrounds; however, last minute changes mean a change of venue for the program.

The event will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at 707 Windsor Road, Suite A in Charleston.


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]