Academy High strives to nurture students to discover and pursue their passions. As such, we believe that educational opportunities extend far beyond the walls of our school. In this week’s Innovation Actualization, we explore Academy High’s three-year research collaboration with St. Olaf College in Minnesota and University Primary School (UPS) in Urbana. Faculty from St. Olaf are exploring whether local versus non-local varieties of milkweed are optimal for maintaining local monarch populations throughout eight states in our region. Academy High students have worked with their younger research partners from UPS to collect milkweed seeds for the research, and will later plant an experimental milkweed plot and collect relevant data, which will be reported to St. Olaf college. Throughout the process, students are learning about the cause of the decline of Monarch populations, learn about milkweed traits and measurement protocols, evolutionary principles, data analysis, and application of findings. Specifically, Academy High will help determine the impact of planting non-local milkweed seeds. The student scientists are proud to contribute to a larger initiative that is relevant to their local ecosystem, and look forward to sharing their outcomes prior to their graduation. They are also pleased to foster a love of learning through mentoring younger students in our community.