Jamestown Audubon has been doing classroom programs for decades. Many of the presentations are stand-alone, so sometimes we see a class once for 45-60 minutes and then never again. Over the last couple of years, we have been making a conscious effort to switch to a format that we feel will be more effective at making real impact… and that will simply be a lot more fun for us!
My project in this vein involves 5 third grade classes at a local elementary school. I will be working with them on a variety of natural science projects throughout the year. To kick the year off, the teachers opted to do their Painted Ladies butterfly unit. My contribution was to bring along the Butterfly Lady (aka Monarch Mama, or Barb) to teach the kids about Monarchs, so they could compare and contrast them with the Painted Ladies. Barb found us enough Monarch caterpillars so that each classroom could have one.
Miraculously, the Monarchs and almost all the Painted Ladies emerged within a few days of each other. I went to their classrooms today to tag the Monarchs and assist with the release.
The kids were very excited to see the butterflies go free. Of course, when you first release them, they don’t take off immediately. They fly a bit, then land in the grass or on a flower. It didn’t take long for the kids to discover that they could gently slide a finger under the feet of a Painted Lady and entice it to crawl up.
Most of the flowers in the butterfly garden are starting to go to seed. There were a few that still looked fresh enough to have nectar. We placed the Monarchs on these.
I know it is such a loooonnnngggg shot. But it would be soooooo cool if one of the tagged butterflies made it all the way to Mexico and we heard back about it, wouldn’t it?
I hope these kids remember this day for a long time. I know I will.
There are lots more pictures at my Flickr site.