Champion of the Month

Tom & Cheryl Bell Share

Aug 8, 2019  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Life­long Mar­i­on res­i­dents, Tom and Cheryl Bell, are cham­pi­ons for con­ser­va­tion of but­ter­flies and their nat­ur­al habi­tat. One prod­uct of the Bells’ pas­sion is a won­drous, edu­ca­tion­al attrac­tion in Mar­i­on. The cou­ple brought the But­ter­fly Gar­den to the Mead­ow of the Gar­dens of Mat­ter Park in 2015. For­mer Gar­dens Direc­tor, Doug Dar­ga, sought their ideas and visions for the Mead­ow in 2014, and there was no ques­tion the But­ter­fly Gar­den would serve as a fea­ture, but main­ly serve as a pol­li­na­tor gar­den for Mon­archs and oth­er species of but­ter­flies. The Bells work each day, morn­ing and evening, as vol­un­teers in the Gar­dens of Mat­ter Park. They raise and release but­ter­flies for all to wit­ness while part­ner­ing in migra­tion research with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas. Cheryl has booked experts to speak for the Gar­den Edu­ca­tion Series, and the But­ter­fly Gar­den has been used as a blue­print for oth­er communities.

Cheryl explained, We want­ed to make some­thing excit­ing for fam­i­lies by bring­ing some­thing spe­cial to our home­town. The But­ter­fly Gar­den is excit­ing for kids, and adults turn into kids in amaze­ment of the trea­sures found here.”

Tom added, It fills me with pride to see peo­ple enjoy­ing the Gar­dens and Riverwalk.”

The Bells help con­ser­va­tion groups in restor­ing wet­lands at the Lim­ber­lost State His­toric Site in Gene­va, IN, assist­ing with har­vest­ing seeds to pre­serve the prairie at Kanka­kee Sands Nature Con­ser­van­cy in North­west Indi­ana, and help­ing to main­tain Ouabache State Park in Bluffton. 

Tom and Cheryl are both Indi­ana Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ists through the Indi­ana Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources. Tom a 50-year vet­er­an employ­ee at GM as a die mak­er, and uses archi­tec­tur­al skills from Ball State Uni­ver­si­ty for projects includ­ing the design of the But­ter­fly Gar­den. Cheryl retired from teach­ing Hula danc­ing after 23 years. She per­formed and even orga­nized and helped teach the Poly­ne­sian dance all over the coun­try while mak­ing Mar­i­on a promi­nent loca­tion for sev­er­al years before the pro­gram grew and moved to Indianapolis. 

Cheryl has been active with the Gar­den Club of Mar­i­on since 2010, hav­ing served as Pres­i­dent for five years, lead­ing the team to win sev­en state awards and three nation­al awards. 

The Bells are cel­e­brat­ing their 50th wed­ding anniver­sary this year (2019).

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