April 1, 2014, Department, by National Recreation and Park Association

Let us know what you think about what you read each month in Parks & Recreation Magazine!Fantastic article about the monarch butterflies and how parks can help educate the public! The M-NCPPC’s (Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission) Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation is currently constructing a wonderful educational imagination playground with the theme of “Grammy’s Garden — Caterpillars and Butterflies.” The playground theme is to educate the children about the caterpillar-butterfly life cycle through “play and learn!” The entire play area has learning opportunities about the butterflies of Maryland. Such elements include:

Butterfly Images:  Large 30-foot-long butterfly banners are hung on the building, which contain butterfly names.

Food: 16 planter boxes, which contain clear “view windows” to show the roots of the plants growing for botanical science STEM knowledge, were constructed and filled with butterfly nectar-producing plants and parsley herbs for caterpillar food.

Habitat: A butterfly garden area was planted with flowers, butterfly bushes, butterfly weed and other plants to sustain habitat.

Shelter: A butterfly house was posted with bark for night shelter, and children can raise the side panel to view the butterflies “sleeping.”

Life-Cycle Sign: This shows the four life-cycle stages of the butterfly. The sign helps teach children about the butterfly eggs, caterpillar, cocoon, and then a new butterfly! 

Another exciting benefit is the Custom Butterfly-Caterpillar Play Equipment designed by M-NCPPC and Landscape Structures. The equipment reflects fun play elements such as a cocoon (that children can hide in), a tall garden flower play structure, a huge Bug’s Life-like leaf play structure and a crawling caterpillar tube tunnel. The staff painted an outdoor learning wall with ABCs showing the caterpillar hiding on or under each alphabet. It is a fun learning experience while playing with a goal to educate the children about the importance of butterflies.

Email from Brenda Iraola, landscape architect supervisor and project designer for Grammy’s Garden — Caterpillars and Butterflies, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation


Rising poverty, poor health, mental illness, addictions and poor spiritual health are certainly all contributing to the homeless problem and challenging us. The “us” includes park agencies, human service organizations, faith communities, law enforcement, public agencies, businesses and more. On the local level in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I recently attended a meeting of social service agencies trying to address this problem. It was good to see about 10 different agencies present who are interested in the homeless situation. Our agency does not have park rangers, and our maintenance staff have been frustrated by the homeless for a long time. Homeless people always have a lot more time on their hands to build camps than we have time to remove them. God loves them too, but we have to balance our compassion with the complaints we get from the public, or from the Mayor’s Action Center, etc. Women joggers in particular are understandably apprehensive about stumbling across homeless guys sleeping/camping near the trail or hanging around restrooms. In my opinion, it will take a concentrated intervention effort over the long haul to make an impact. Even with efforts from the police department and the social service agencies, we have had only marginal success in moving homeless folks. Does anyone have successful methods to address this dilemma?

Comment by Matt Mayer, executive director of the River Parks Authority in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on January's feature article Out of the Shadows