MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Pesticides and loss of habitat are having an impact on monarch butterflies and honeybees around the world. The insects are dying off in large numbers.

A group of fifth graders from Maple Grove is so concerned, they’re taking steps to bring the population back up.

They’re planting a meadow with the hopes of attracting the pollinators in the years ahead.

As the year winds down at Weaver Lake Elementary, Elaina Varney and Ali Swanson are already making preparations for next year.

“It was cool to plant it because you know you’re making a difference,” said Ali Swanson, a fifth grader at Weaver Lake.

The two girls are among the many fifth graders laying the ground work for next fall when students will return to see a half-acre plot outside the school transformed.

“It’s going to be exciting to come back here and look at everything,” said Elaina Varney, another fifth grader at Weaver Lake.

The seedlings and seeds they plant have a purpose. When fully grown, the plants will ultimately attract pollinators, specifically bees and monarch butterflies.

“We’re planting a prairie to help try and raise their population,” Varney said.

In their lessons on science and the outdoors, the dwindling number of monarchs have already had an impact.“Three years ago, they raised 900 monarchs and released them,” said Karla Juetten of Weaver Lake Elementary. “The past two years, we haven’t seen any.”

Varney worries about a world without the honeybee.

”If we didn’t have the bees, we wouldn’t have as much food,” Varney said.

Planting allows them to dig into this global issue, knowing that one small plant will ultimately become a growing prairie.

“I think it’s nice for them to feel empowered to do something for issues they care about,” Juetten said.

Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust chipped in $5,000 to pay for the planting project with the help of a grant.

“I think it’s going to be really cool,” Varney said. “It’s going to be a big prairie and flowers growing, and there’s going to be lots of bees.”