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John Wetten Elementary students visit nature park to release butterflies in preparation for formal ceremonies.

Three classrooms of John Wetten Elementary School first and second graders visited the Gladstone Nature Park Butterfly/Pollinator Hill on June 14, their last day of school before summer vacation.COURTESY PHOTO: NANCY EICHSTEADT - Students from Kassy Babecko's second-grade class found a new home for the painted-lady butterflies theyve been raising from larvae this spring.

To complete their study of insects and pollinators, students found a new home for the painted-lady butterflies they've been raising from larvae this spring in their classrooms. They released the butterflies to a new habitat on the public park's Pollinator Hill.

A three-year project, funded by the Friends of Gladstone Nature Park's $13,100 in grants from Metro and OnPoint Community Credit Union has concluded and is being celebrated in a series of events this month.

Pollinator Hill is a 25-foot tall, 10,000 square-foot space in the Gladstone Nature Park that was cleared of invasive species and restored with native plants that attract butterflies, pollinators and birds. The work was performed by volunteers, students and community partners over a three-year period, said Friends of Gladstone Nature Park's Nancy Eichsteadt.COURTESY PHOTO: NANCY EICHSTEADT - John Wetten Elementary students participating in the pollinator activities at Gladstone Nature Park included, from left, Zeke Smith, Susie Kelly and Tae White.

"We are so excited to add this feature to our park and our town," said Mayor Tammy Stempel. "It's something the community will enjoy for many years to come."

From 10 a.m.-noon on June 25, a Caterpillar Festival is planned for the park where families will adopt a segment of a giant caterpillar along the park's paved trail and decorate it with chalk. At 1 p.m., a formal dedication ceremony and short program will be held at the hill featuring, city, county and Metro representatives.

The events are free, and the Caterpillar Festival and the dedication are open to the public at 18111 Webster Road.

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