Butterfly Garden Conversion to Indoor Exhibit

Butterfly Garden Conversion to Indoor Classroom Exhibit

Goal:  Prepare indoor area for learning activities. Offer the opportunity to generate revenue during the off season when it is impractical to have outdoor activities. The main focus is to offer continued learning activities especially when the Cedar Creek Trail has to be close for bad weather.  The educational components to inhabit the indoor classroom will be:

  • Naturalist Area where there is a focus on local plant and animal life, wetland, and meaningful watershed activities
  • Monacan Area with historical information
  • Develop adult learning experience on wetlands and need for wetland preservation and restoration (Adult education is necessary to apply for VFH Grant)
  • Tie the wetland exhibit into how the Monacan Indians used wetland flora and fauna in their daily activities
  • Hands on activities for visitors to help with identification of local flora and fauna
  • Archaeology area with a mock dig/excavation

Steps required to make the classroom exhibit:

Archaeology Site:

  • Remove dirt from two garden areas. Line bottom area with tarp and add sand in both areas to develop mock dig areas.  (Will use the sand from outside the RC lower level.)
  • Collect items to seed the archaeology site with
  • Develop poster for wall display
  • Paint exposed wooden boards to prevent splinters
  • Use classroom tools from outdoor Archaeological Exhibit

Archaeology site





Monacan Site:

  • Build 2 framing jigs at Monacan Exhibit area to pre-bend the saplings for the indoor wigwam. (DONE)
  • Harvest 28 saplings for uprights and 21 saplings for horizontals (Begin the week of July 13th)
  • Pre-bend saplings in framing jig (Daily as saplings are harvested)
  • Remove center portion of butterfly garden including 3 grow lights. (Needs help from maintenance on the electrical part)
  • Depending on the condition of the floor when the section is removed we may need to replace some stones.
  • Purchase Rope
  • Once saplings are harvested and bent begin to bring them to the new exhibit area and assemble the wigwam frame.
  • In the last part of September and into late October begin harvesting cattails.
  • Have Monacan interpretive staff weave mats to use as a cover for the wigwam.
  • Re-purpose the log from the display as a seat in the wigwam. Use any extra mats as seats.
  • Hang hides and furs on the cedar wall directly across from the door leading inside the wigwam. This display will benefit both the naturalist and the Monacan exhibit
  • Develop a communal cooking display in one of the plant areas. This should including a wooden grill, flat cooking stone and clay pot.  (Harvest saplings from property to build the grill. Repurpose one of the top cover stones as a cooking stone.)
  • Roll and coil clay pot for this exhibit, have Carlos to fire it for us. (We have already dug local NB clay for the Monacan Exhibit, we will use some of that.)
  • Use the last garden area on the right for a garbage pit, this will tie the exhibit to the Archaeology area. Place corn cobs, broken pottery, squash or pumpkin seeds and bone fragments in the pit.

Center Garden

We are working on dismantling the center section of the exhibit. The top soil is slated to go the Monacan Exhibit garden area. There are three grow lights which need to be removed. We will need someone with electrical experience to help. We are looking at keeping the rest of the grow lights for lighting so there is no addition expense with lighting.

Naturalist Area:

  • Make sure both water features are in good working condition. (Maintenance) We are considering keeping a turtle in the smaller one and change it out for something else periodically.
  • Purchase plywood, three 4’X8’ boards, and enough wood to make 12 hinged flaps on each of the three plywood boards for a total of 36 Will also need hinges, knob handles and bolts to hang them with.  Will need additional wood to make the boxes.

animal tracks

Our board should have 5 flaps on top and bottom rows and the middle row one flap on each side of the writing. Animal Tracks, Birds, and Plants will be the three areas we concentrate on.  These will be positioned inside the entrance and exit doors. Brandon and Gretch will choose the animals and plants.

  • Develop information specific to local animals. Have posters with information about the animals available to rotate through a portion of the exhibit.  These animals will correlate to the ones listed on the animal track or bird identification boards.  This information will be posted as you exit the inside doors of the exhibit, to the right.
  • Using one of the largest sections of garden areas, do a mockup of a watershed system. This will include information on the importance of the water, wetlands, and animal habitats.  (Brandon is working on this and is coordinating the activities with Dean, Vicky, and Gretch)   This will require us developing a series of posters with educational information and having them printed on foam board.  We are looking at ways to get other posters, like one on the wolves and their positive impact on the land where they have been reintroduced.  We will want to use a flat screen TV and run a loop of the You-tube documentary on the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone.
  • As you enter the double door exit from the exhibit there will be one of the identification boards on one side and on the other (below the mirror) we would like to do the name the item from the hidden box. We would like to have the children able to get a certificate if they get all the items correct.  (This would be a half page certificate and the naturalist or person on duty would fill it out.)

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This is just about all the information we have at this time.  We want to keep cost down and are trying t repurpose items from the property.  The main thing we will need to purchase is posters on foam boards.  We will also need to purchase the wood for the hands on flip games and the hidden box game.  Michael would need to price the hardware store items required for this and appropriate someone to build them.  Brandon and Gretch will need to put the pertinent information on them before Maintenance hangs them on the wall.

The whole plan:

Walk into the entrance and the first thing you will see are the hands on boards with the animal and bird identification.  Enter into the second set of doors and hear the fountain and to the right, learn about how the water shed works, how what we do here can affect the watershed at the Chesapeake Bay.

To the left will be the focus on an animal who utilizes our water.

Walk straight ahead and there is the wigwam, covered with wetland plants.  The wigwam will have two door.  The “back door” will lead you to the Archaeological area where the kids can learn about the science of archaeology and actually dig in the sand for items.

The back windows will have items we do not want people to handle like stone knives, hatchets, arrow points, clay pots, and baskets.  Some will be from archaeological digs, some items will be the ones we use at the exhibit.  The children will climb the steps to look in the window and see the exhibit items.

If you come out the front door of the wigwam and continue toward the back area we will have the hides on display, beside that there will be the example of a cooking area and beyond that the garbage pit.  This will cover food, clothing, shelter, and water which are the basic necessities.

Directly behind the wigwam in the center is the second water feature.  Currently we are looking at placing a turtle there. We can use that area to discuss the loss of species when we lose our wetlands.  (We can keep one for a few months then release it and maybe replace it with a fish.)

When exiting the classroom area there will be on one side under the mirror the third board with plant information on the other side will be the four boxes where you need to feel and identify the objects.  Any child who gets all four will get a certificate.  We will keep certificates in the wooden file folder attached to the wall (not for use for group tours).

This area will also be used for the kids activities associated with the hotel.  The activities director will have a key and can utilize the area as needed.