An Inside Look at Butterfly Pavilion’s Education Department
Parker McMullen-Bushman, VP of Programs, Interpretation and Education at Butterfly Pavilion
Butterfly Pavilion’s education department is a powerhouse of community engagement, providing unique, meaningful and accessible experiences to learners of all ages in Colorado and around the world. Whether we are facilitating curriculum-aligned programs in our classrooms, training teens to be the next conservation leaders, providing live animal encounters in exhibits, or live-streaming a program to classrooms across the country, Butterfly Pavilion’s education efforts give participants one-of-a-kind opportunities to engage directly with science educators and live animals wherever they are. This model inspires more and more individuals every year to appreciate invertebrates and to take action to conserve them.
In 2018, we saw over 340,000 visitors to our facility, with each guest having the opportunity to engage directly with our educators in exhibits.
Butterfly Pavilion also reached 128,276 guests through our educational programs, including...
- 26,404 participants in field trips.
- 29,502 participants in outreach programs conducted at schools and community sites.
- 7,440 participants in distance learning (our virtual programs).
- 64,554 participants in 2,129 Spineless Spotlight presentations in our exhibits.
Butterfly Pavilion’s massive educational impact could not be accomplished without our dedicated Programs, Interpretation and Education staff. This team’s passion shows every day with the work they do at our facility and out in the community.
Meet some of the inspiring members of our team.
Denise Price wears several hats in the Education Department. As an Educator, Camp Counselor and Floor Interpreter, Denise is on the front lines of facilitating meaningful connections between our guests and the over 5,000 invertebrates that call Butterfly Pavilion home.
“All of my jobs have the advantage that they allow me to work directly with guests. So, I have the opportunity to increase the guest’s knowledge and comfort level with invertebrates. With invertebrates making up 97% of the animal species, environmental education can’t be taught without including invertebrates in the lesson. Invertebrates are overlooked and underappreciated, so it is a privilege to help people see the worth of these tiny treasures. Every person that I encounter that leaves with a smile on their face is one more invertebrate champion!”
Marissa Copan, Community Programs Manager, oversees youth, family and adult programming. The wide range of educational opportunities she manages includes day camps for kids throughout the year, Beekeeping Bootcamp and Rainforest Yoga for adults, Zoo Snooze overnights for families, Senior Tea Times, and more.
“I work to represent Butterfly Pavilion in the larger community and bring interested people together to experience our mission. My work is to provide opportunities for everyone in our community to have authentic, fun, and unique learning experiences that will change the way they think about invertebrates, about habitats, about conserving our world! Last year we taught over 4,955 people of all ages directly through Community Programs, and saw over 18,374 people at events in the community! I want to teach people that everything is connected: without them – there is no us! It’s easy to teach a 10-year old why pandas are cool -- but to help a 70-year-old fall in love with a scorpion? That’s the real magic.”
Steve Chady has been a Butterfly Pavilion volunteer since 2013. He serves as an Exhibit Ambassador and also volunteers for the Horticulture (plant care) and Curatorial (animal care) departments. Steve believes that though invertebrates are often feared, misunderstood, or disregarded, education has the power to open our eyes to the vital role they play on Earth.
“My two favorite areas are Wings of the Tropics and Water's Edge. In WOTT, I like to answer questions and talk about the life cycle of butterflies and moths and the importance of preserving the rainforest at the butterfly farms. In Water’s Edge, I explain the importance of horseshoe crabs, for their blue blood used for medical purposes as well as their eggs which are a critical food source for migratory birds along the Atlantic coast.”
Rebecca Magill, Registration Coordinator, schedules school field trips, youth and adult outreach programs, distance learning classes, senior teas, and scout classes. Rebecca works to make the process of booking a reservation as easy as possible and engages directly with organization and group leaders to determine which program will best meet their needs. Her role is vital in ensuring groups of all types have the opportunity to engage with our mission.
“When I was a preschool teacher, I would spend most of my time out on the playground or during a walk looking for tiny creatures with my students. It was always my favorite part of the day to see the children’s excitement as we searched for and watched these fascinating animals. I love that Butterfly Pavilion is educating young and old about the importance of invertebrates to us and our world."
Julie Ann Barowski, Volunteer Program Manager, ensures our volunteers and interns have a meaningful and fun experience during their time at Butterfly Pavilion, working alongside our staff to expand our impact. Julie Ann believes in educating the community on the importance of invertebrates and finds it incredibly rewarding to help volunteers take action to conserve them.
“All of our volunteers and interns extend Butterfly Pavilion's capacity to great work every day. Behind the scenes, volunteers and interns assist staff in every department, giving us the ability to do even more. You can meet our biggest group of volunteers, Exhibit Ambassadors, out at the exhibits educating guests and helping them make deeper connections with our animals. My role enables Butterfly Pavilion to make the best use of the valuable time and talents of our amazing volunteers!”
Thanks to these incredible individuals and all the other dedicated staff members at Butterfly Pavilion, we’ve accomplished a lot in 2018. We look forward to all the exciting educational opportunities we’ll be offering this year! Learn more about our School Programs, Child & Family Programs, Exhibits and Volunteer programs by visiting butterflies.org.