Indoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden rebuilding after loss 

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Though it was a warm and mild winter, a brief cold snap in mid-January brought devastation to the Indoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden. As the bitter temperatures dropped below zero over a long weekend, the Plant and Soil Sciences Building in which the gardens are housed lost heat. Without the hot water heating system to maintain 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperatures in the greenhouses plummeted. Staff arrived back on Monday to rooms that were 18 degrees. Hundreds of plants were lost throughout a variety of MSU greenhouses, including the entirety of plants in the Indoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden. 

“It was a heartbreaking sight to see,” said Jessica Wright, education coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens and interim curator. “We lost so many beautiful plants, many of which we had been cultivating for many, many years, so we lost of a lot of history as well.” 

Though distressing, Wright had little time to process the loss. Spring was just a few short months away and with it brings Butterflies in the Garden, one of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens most beloved events. She quickly got to work ensuring spring field trips and programs could still take place in the Indoor 4-H Children’s Garden. Thanks to generous donations, Wright secured a portion of the plant material necessary to provide a habitat for the butterflies this spring.  

“Our Butterflies in the Garden event is just so special, we couldn’t let the year go by without hosting that for the community,” explained Wright. “I’m so thankful to the donors who provided materials to make this event possible.”  

While working quickly to get things operational, Wright and other garden staff are taking this time to reimagine the indoor garden as an improved space for learning. Initial concepts include renovating the room to allow for multipurpose use as a classroom, in addition to serving as the butterfly house in the springtime.  

“Our beautiful indoor gardens would make the perfect backdrop for so many programs,” said Wright. “With a little creativity, we could make a magical place for youth to learn and explore.”  

To make this vision a reality, the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens needs additional support. To assist, donate to the 4-H Children’s Gardens renewal fund. Alternatively, you can support 4-H Children’s Gardens’ educational programming, garden upkeep and other innovations by donating to the general 4-H Children’s Gardens fund or by sponsoring a brick for the outdoor 4-H Children’s Gardens’ Demonstration Plaza. Donate online at: or mail a check to the Michigan 4-H Foundation. 

The Indoor 4-H Children’s Garden opened May 2, 2003, to provide year-round educational access to science-based learning and exploration of plants for children.