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Erin Salsbery, whose two sons attend McVay Elementary, grew up surrounded by nature and wanted students to experience that same magic.

For the past year, she envisioned a school garden that could serve as an outdoor learning lab, introducing students to the plant, insect and animal life around them. What started as an idea became a community project embraced by the PTA, area businesses and the Noon Rotary Club of Westerville.

During McVay’s Art Showcase on Thursday night, Salsbery, Rotary Club members and Interim Principal Rachel Lacy gathered for the dedication of a new pollinator garden near the entrance of the school.

“It’s a food forest now for over 40 types of moths and butterflies and the plants were all selected to be specific host plants to certain butterflies,” Salsbery said.

The garden features flowers and plants that bloom across different points of the season to attract different butterflies and moths. It also includes seating to host class visits.

Lacy said the garden offers students an opportunity to see in real-time the topics they cover in their science lessons such as pollinators and habitats.

When Rotary Club members heard of Salsbery’s idea, they offered their support, helping to remove invasive plants and preparing the grounds so they could plant in the spring.

And as momentum started to build on the garden, so did additional support. Baker’s Acres Greenhouse as well as McVay’s PTA donated money for the project. Several local plant shops and nurseries provided free plants.

“It was really, truly a community effort,” she said.

CAPTION (ABOVE, from left): Rotary Club of Westerville member Carol Faulkner, President Elect Brandy Deichert, McVay Elementary Interim Principal Rachel Lacy, Rotary Club President Katrina Plourde, McVay parent and project organizer Erin Salsbery and Rotary Club Peace Committee Chairman Dr. Larry Shepherd.

(BELOW): Children play around the pollinator garden at McVay Elementary during its dedication ceremony Thursday.

Special thanks to the Westerville City School District Community Engagement Coordinator Charlie Boss for these photos and story about the pollinator garden dedication.


The Rotary Club of Westerville

Founded in 1959, the Rotary Club of Westerville is a service club of business professionals and leaders working to improve our community and larger world. We are part of Rotary International. Find out more at Contact the Club and learn how to join at Read more about the Rotary International organization at

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