In early June, community members gathered at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center to learn more about what each of them can do for the environment in their own backyards.

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service hosted the event to showcase what one of their grant recipients is doing in their people’s garden with the use of cultural practices. CPN was the first Native American nation to receive this grant, but the USDA hopes that others will participate after seeing the partnership at this event.

The participants began with a tour of the CPN community garden by Assistant Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Andrew Gourd, then listened to speakers at the CHC, including Euchee Butterfly Farm Director Jane Breckenridge who talked about the monarch migration patterns, USDA NRCS Resource Specialist

Joe Buford who explained the funding opportunities through his organization for farmers of all sizes and CPN Eagle Aviary Managers Jennifer Randell and Bree Dunham who brought special guest Myanabe – the aviary’s resident golden eagle. Participants were also treated to lunch at FireLake Bistro, where they continued to network with the speakers and other audience members.

Participants included several local master gardeners, managers of other community gardens in Shawnee and Gordon Cooper Technology Center Agriculture Business Coordinator Sarah Weeks.

“I came to the event to see the heritage garden and learn what and how they were planting,” Weeks said. “I learn quite a bit about seed collection and how tribes share seeds between them. One of the most useful ways I can use the information I learned today is by letting local farmers know that they don’t have to grow the same things as the person down the road.”

Holly Gordon shared what she learned and could use in her role as a healthy living consultant at Gateway to Prevention and Recovery.

“Coming to this event was the perfect opportunity because part of our work has to do with helping organizations and schools with their community gardens. What a better way to learn about butterfly conservation and beneficial pollinators,” Gordon said enthusiastically. “I had no idea that one of the first things we can do is say ‘no’ to toxic ingredients in our gardens and above and beyond that, we can plant beneficial plants such as milkweed and butterfly bushes.”

The next opportunity to get involved is at the milkweed planting day at the CPN Community Garden on Tuesday, June 27 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-6 p.m. The event is open to the public and will focus on educating the community on monarch rehabilitation and wildlife conservation.

For more information about the CPN Community Garden or monarch rehabilitation initiatives, please contact Andrew Gourd at or (405) 878-5830.