GrowingHeights is working for the monarch

Augustina Odenbrett, Taron Wright, and David Mackenzie.

GrowingHeights, in partnership with a local AmeriCorps program, made some sweeping changes to the butterfly gardens on the corners of Cedar Hill and Euclid Heights Boulevard. The group set to work to both beautify and benefit greenspace, and to save the butterflies.

The collaboration is meant to impact AmeriCorps members' nearby neighborhoods through environmental service and educational opportunities. The Cleveland Heights cohort of GLISTEN AmeriCorps members is coordinated by Augustina Odenbrett, and all Cleveland Heights AmeriCorps members are CH-UH high school students. GLISTEN stands for Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network.

During the month of September, Odenbrett, Sinclair Massey, DJ Holsey, Taron Wright and David Mackenzie worked tirelessly on the initial cleanup of the southeast site. Their service included harvesting Russian coneflowers, cutting down invasive plants, and exposing the stone trail running through the garden. They collected seeds from plants that, as part of a winter project, will be prepared for distribution to other sites in the Heights in the spring.

Across the road, running between Harcourt Drive and Cedar Hill, members cut down noxious ragweed and invasive strangleweed that was choking out milkweed, a plant necessary to the monarch butterfly. Female monarchs search for milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs. Monarch larvae (caterpillars) only feed on milkweed and cannot survive without it. Many sites on the migratory path of the monarch have been lost to development, making this site extremely important. 

The partnership also cleaned up dead growth on trees and hardy hisbiscus, removed trash, exposed hostas being held hostage by weeds, and identified insects, including the large milkweed bug, which was found on multiple milkweed plants, and was new to all the Americorps members.

GLISTEN AmeriCorps members are looking for additional spaces where they can perform environmental service before winter, as well as next spring and summer. The sites must be on public land, or have a direct public benefit. They would like to spread their work all over Cleveland Heights and University Heights, including Forest Hill Park. Interested residents and community organizations should contact Augustina Odenbrett at

Chris Hanson

Chris Hanson is coordinator of GrowingHeights (, and holds a B.A. in urban studies from Cleveland State University. 

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 5:44 PM, 10.29.2015