TOPEKA (KSNT) – Some students at a local elementary school are learning about a common insect up close and personal before releasing them to the wild.

For the past month, students and Meadows Elementary School housed almost 800 monarch butterfly caterpillars. Students got to see the progression from caterpillar to butterfly in their own classroom over the span of four to five weeks. On Wednesday, the school took a field trip to Bethany House and Garden where students tagged and released the monarch butterflies.

“The engagement from the classroom, from the teachers to the kids has been fantastic,” Caroline Howard with Bethany House and Garden said. “Helping them to see that they’ve played an important role in getting these vital pollinators all the way down to the end of their migration has been really cool.”

Howard says the butterflies released Wednesday will begin migrating south to Mexico for the winter.