Dozens of butterflies were released in Vernon’s Polson Park Thursday, May 12, for a project that brought high school and elementary students together for environmental action.
W.L. Seaton Secondary School students Polina Ignatyeva, Ava Marginson, and Natalie Fux hosted the event that saw the release of 70 painted lady butterflies, which were provided by Vernon Teach and Learn.
Also in attendance were the young students at Beairsto Elementary School who raised the butterflies in their classroom. At the event, before getting an up-close look at the butterflies they’d parented, they were treated to an interactive lesson by Okanagan College biology professor Dale Donovan.
While less effective than bees, butterflies are still important pollinators that play a role in preserving native plant species, but as Marginson told the crowd in the park, their numbers in the Okanagan have been dwindling for decades.
“With the monarch alone there has been a 99 per cent decline since the 1980s,” she said. “We are looking to change that.”
The butterfly release is one of many student projects the public can take in at the upcoming Vernon Youth Climate Action Summit on May 31 at the Vernon Recreation Centre. Attendees will find projects focused on beekeeping, hydroponic gardening, tree planting and much more.
For the Seaton students, the project inspired a lot of hope for the future.
Marginson said before starting the project, she’d felt as though the ship had sailed on stopping the climate crisis.
“You almost think we’re too far gone now, that it’s too late,” she said.
But after speaking to countless people to organize the event and bring the project to light, they’ve seen how many folks care about protecting the environment.
“We definitely learned that the community is actually hopeful,” said Ignatyeva. “They want to see hope for a better future. They’re very eager to help, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re just a couple high school students or big businesses.
“Reaching out and seeing people engaged gave me a learning experience that we really are striving for the same goal. We want a happy ending.”