"Butterflies are born, mate, lay eggs, are larvae, become adults and
die in a matter of eight to 12 weeks," says volunteer and retired
engineer Fred Adams, "so they make an ideal species for studying how
environmental factors can affect and disrupt a life cycle."
A Sierra Club member for over 20 years and currently a member of the
Butterfly Society of Virginia, Adams says he became more active in the
Club when he recognized that educational efforts were absent from the
Chesapeake Bay Group's conservation agenda. While group chair, he was
approached by Club members and educators Steve Carozzo and Chris Cuozzo
to do an environmental project for a group of advanced 7th-grade
science students. Adams recommended a school curriculum focused on
local Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and was strongly supported by
Virginia Chapter Chair Tyla Matteson and by Atlantic Ecoregional
Coordinator Joy Oakes.
"We're so focused on political actions that we really aren't experts at
education," says Adams. "Joy recognized that a butterfly project could
fit because it focused on a species that demonstrates the problems of
wildlife in our ecoregion and makes the connection between the
classroom and the natural world." Oakes then assisted by getting the
Club to put up seed money for Adams' idea from the Avery Foundation.
The Butterfly Society came forward with the rest.
The curriculum addresses all of Virginia's butterflies, but emphasizes
those that migrate through the Chesapeake Bay region and depend on the
health of the entire watershed. Adams himself participates not as a
teacher but as an adviser, bringing in guest speakers and leading field
"Students are presented with the problem that butterflies are
decreasing in number and then try to understand the biological
significance of the decline," says Adams. "They then create an action
plan to turn the situation around."
Students have built butterfly gardens and produced field guides and a
newsletter. Now Adams is seeking funds to broaden efforts and develop a
curriculum that can serve as a national model. His local PBS station
has offered to make all his student curricula available via the World
"The idea," says Adams, "is to ensure there are environmental activists
in the future by pursuing a program that is long enough to have an
impact on students -- and by bringing in people who can demonstrate
their passion for the outdoors."
For more information:
Contact Fred Adams at (757) 467-2775; e-mail:
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