Release the butterflies: Vernon students propagating at-risk insects ahead of climate action summit

Students will release abut 70 butterflies in Polson Park at 11 a.m. Thursday

W.L. Seaton Secondary School students are hosting a butterfly release in Polson Park in Vernon at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Black Press file photo).

W.L. Seaton Secondary School students are hosting a butterfly release in Polson Park in Vernon at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Black Press file photo).

Vernon’s butterfly population is about to grow as local students look to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.

A butterfly release ceremony will be hosted by W.L. Seaton Secondary School students Polina Ignatyeva, Ava Marginson, and Natalie Fux on Thursday at 11 a.m. in Polson Park, behind the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

“B.C. butterfly and plant species are at risk due to climate change,” Ignatyeva explained, “so we made it our mission to show the Vernon community that we need to make a change to protect this vital pollinator. If a small butterfly can transform, then so can we as individuals and even more so as a community.”

About 70 butterflies were provided by Vernon Teach and Learn and raised by Beairsto Elementary students to be released on Thursday.

Butterflies are crucial pollinators, but their numbers have been dropping in the Okanagan for about 25 years according to the observations of local entomologist Ward Strong.

The ceremony sets the stage for the Vernon Climate Action Summit, which will take place in the Vernon Recreation Centre auditorium on May 31. The public will be welcome to speak to students and view their projects on display from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The butterfly release is one of many projects and events that have been created by more than 120 Vernon secondary students. The projects are all in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and the City of Vernon’s Climate Action Plan.

From beekeeping to hydroponic gardening, the projects offer solutions for reducing local greenhouse gas emissions while supporting social, cultural, and economic well-being.

“Our moral goal with this project is to show that taking action and making change doesn’t have to be initiated by the government,” Marginson said. “Nor does it have to be grand. It starts small, with a community eventually having a change of heart.”

Collaboration was a key to the project’s success.

“We couldn’t have done this without the efforts of the Okanagan Science Centre, Vernon Teach and Learn, Beairsto students, and the generosity of teachers, parents, and the businesses that provided knowledge and moral and financial support,” Fux said.

The students were also thankful for the financial support they received from School District 22, the City of Vernon, Associated Engineering, Roost Solar, Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society, and Save-On Foods.

READ MORE: Fewer butterflies colour the Okanagan

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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