Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Beginnings and Transformations

Tagging my butterfly
This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Monarch Teacher Network workshop entitled Teaching and Learning with Monarch Butterflies!  It was sponsored by October Hill Foundation and Hope College. The presenter was Erik Mollenhauer with additional help from Cindy and Paul Wackerbarth.  I have raised Monarch butterflies in my classroom before and it is always a thrill. This workshop brought new depth of appreciation, knowledge and joy of this amazing insect and I am forever grateful.  I learned how to spot an egg on the milkweed leaf, how to identify several of the other insects that live on milkweed, how to handle and feed both the larva (caterpillar) and the butterfly, how to breed butterflies, how to tag them and how to release them. All of that was amazing, but the real treasures in this workshop and Erik's presentations were the connections that he made between this amazing insect and the critical issues that we face today, including migration across borders, global warming, monoculture cultivation, and deforestation.  It's a story of an annual migration that spans three nations from Canada through the United States and into Mexico.  The workshop included many resources for bringing these issues and topics into the classroom setting and beyond. I look forward to incorporating this amazing story into language arts, social studies, math and science lessons. Erik, Cindy, Paul and all the participants (including monarchs in various stages) reminded me again of this amazing planet we inhabit and the great fortune we have to be a part of it.  This workshop was not simply about the transformation and travels of the monarch; it was about a transformation in the hearts of those of us lucky enough to participate.  As Erik writes, "If it takes a village to raise a child, perhaps it takes a butterfly to bring that village together."  Thank you to everyone who is making a difference in the lives of the butterflies and the heart of the village!

Releasing my new found friend!