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Colorado State University and Butterfly Pavilion Formalize Partnership

Colorado State University and Butterfly Pavilion Formalize Partnership

By Dr. Rich Reading, Director of Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion, and Mary Ann Colley, VP of Science and Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion.

What kinds of habitats do tarantulas prefer? How do we best stimulate our octopuses with enrichment?  These are just a couple of the fascinating questions that students from Colorado State University (CSU) have researched in the strong and growing partnership between our two world-class organizations.

With dozens of students from CSU coming to work as paid and unpaid interns for Butterfly Pavilion over the years, our organizations have been working together for decades, but only recently has that partnership been formalized in a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). More specifically, BP signed the MOU with CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and we are working to develop a second MOU with the College of Natural Sciences.

In addition to ensuring meaningful experiences for CSU interns, the MOU will allow for scientists from both CSU and Butterfly Pavilion to take either Research Associate or Affiliate Faculty positions at each other’s institutions, expanding the impact of both organizations. Dr. Ruth Hufbauer of CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management (BSPM; where most of CSU’s entomologists and the Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity reside) within the College of Ag and Dr. Jennie Willis of CSU’s Department of Biology within the College of Natural Sciences have both become Research Associates at Butterfly Pavilion. On the Butterfly Pavilion side, Dr. Rich Reading, Director of Conservation, has become an Affiliate Faculty member with the College of Ag and Mary Ann Colley, Vice President of Science and Conservation, has become an Affiliate Faculty member within the Department of Biology. Along with these positions, these folks will act as the main liaisons between the two organizations as we implement the cooperative agreements.

As outlined in our agreement, there are three primary objectives of this partnership:

  • Improve the quantity and quality of conservation, management and research projects conducted by both partners.
  • Increase the educational opportunities for students at CSU through internships; jointly conducted research and conservation projects; and conservation education opportunities.
  • Increase the visibility of the work conducted by BP and CSU among the general public, but especially BP visitors.

In addition, the cooperative agreement outlines the obligations of each party and better describes how we will work together. For example, we will use the C. P. Gillette Museum as a repository for insects we collect during our field research projects, solving the problem of where we can store these animals while adding to the growth of the museum’s collection. Most of our collaboration, however, revolves around joint research projects and providing for opportunities for CSU students. In this win-win, we get high quality interns and the students get access to our collection and real world experiences with meaningful work.

As we continue to build the Center for Invertebrate Research and Conservation (CIRC), partnering with CSU will become even more important and these cooperative agreements will help guide our relationship with a great university.

About Butterfly Pavilion:

Butterfly Pavilion is the world’s only stand-alone, Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited invertebrate zoo dedicated to transforming the way people think about the small but mighty animals that are the hidden heroes of the animal kingdom. As the leader in invertebrate knowledge, inspiration and connection, and as a member institution of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, Butterfly Pavilion works to foster an appreciation of these critical animals by educating the public about the need to protect and care for threatened habitats globally, while conducting research for solutions in invertebrate conservation. Whether it is providing unique, hands-on learning experiences in our exhibits and educational programs, conducting new research that sets the standard for zoos across the country or building innovative solutions for species and habitat conservation in countries around the world, Butterfly Pavilion is leading the way in ensuring invertebrates are protected for the future. Learn more at Butterflies.org.

Butterfly Pavilion Media Contact(s):
Kristen Petitt Stewart, kstewart@butterflies.org or 970-389-1561
Russ Pecoraro, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, rpecoraro@butterflies.org or 720.375.9984

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