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Kokomo library receives grant for butterfly garden

Duke Energy donates $10,000 in support of the project at south branch library

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butterfly garden

GARDEN — Volunteers lay concrete for walkways in the butterfly garden at KHCPL South.

A butterfly garden under construction at the Kokomo-Howard County Library will undergo a metamorphosis quicker than expected, thanks to a grant from Duke Energy.

Earlier this month, the electric company donated a $10,000 grant to the project that will help move it along. Now, officials hope to have a good portion of the pollinator-friendly habitat finished by spring in time to host a couple of events.

“Hats off to Duke. They are a wonderful community partner. They were there when we built the Nature Explore classroom (at the Russiaville branch), and then there again they’re helping save pollinators. They’re helping teach children the importance of nature and the environment,” said Lisa Fipps, director of marketing and communications at KHCPL.

The idea for the garden grew out of a need to educate the community on the importance of native plants and pollinators. Several years ago the library put on an educational event as part of a Grow the Solution Together initiative, and the garden comes as the library’s commitment to being a part of the solution, Fipps said.

The library has continued educating the public in the years since with several butterfly programs, including butterfly releases, and Fipps said it was clear there was an interest in the topic. Every event would draw in upwards of 50 people.

“We were like, ‘We’re onto something big.’ It’s something people really understand and appreciate,” she said.

Now, in cooperation with the Howard County Master Gardeners Association, the south branch library will be home to a butterfly garden, which will include a Monarch Waystation that provides resources for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

The garden also will include native plants, such as bushes and grasses, to provide cover for butterflies and include swamp milkweed, which is essential for Monarch caterpillars, Fipps said.

With the grant money, a good portion of the work will be able to be completed. Recently, concrete was poured for the pathways, and volunteer Stew Worthley built and helped install a bridge that will make the garden ADA accessible.

An informational kiosk also will be a part of the garden.

Fipps hopes a majority of the work will be done by spring so that the garden can be a part of the Howard County Master Gardeners Garden Stroll, and next year, the State Master Gardener Association meeting is being held in Kokomo. The garden will be one of the attractions gardeners from around the state will visit.

“That’s huge because we get to show off our community in general but specifically our butterfly garden, and the library is so thrilled about that, ecstatic,” said Fipps.

Still, the $10,000 donation will not cover all of the expenses. The library is looking for community partners to make donations, help with the work, and take ownership.

“We want everybody to take ownership of it. We want them to be proud of it, and we want them to make donations so we can do things in the future, so we can pay for materials,” she said. “We’re also wanting organizations. We love to see, for example, social organizations like a sorority or a business or Sunday school class say, ‘We will work and take care of this one corner.’ We’re not asking anyone to take it over but just take ownership of one little section and be responsible for it.”

Marian Cable, a Howard County Master Gardener, is looking forward to the opportunities the garden will open up, especially for children.

“The kids are really getting into this. They are so interested in what we’re doing. They’re our target group. You’ve really got to get them when they’re young to get them to understand and care about what’s going on with the environment,” Cable said.

For more information about how to volunteer at the KHCPL Community Butterfly Garden or to make a donation, call Fipps at 765-626-0807 or email her at