Keep Growing, Keep Learning
You are amazing! You wear so many hats in your life. You are a teacher, you are a mom, you are a gardener, you love pollinators and you are constantly trying to make your little world just a little bit better for your family and your community. Way to go!
But it’s a struggle, isn’t it? You grow something that ends up being covered in aphids or white flies or any other number of things, you go once again to research and see what in the world you need to change or add or subtract or just do differently to make things work out. Gardening, as in life, just doesn’t always fit into a nice, neat, organized little box. It constantly changes, like the weather and sometimes it’s hard to just roll with it.
Wings of Enchantment to the rescue! You are looking for a guide, some help along the way and we hope that you will find that guidance or little tidbit that will encourage you to keep trying. Keep growing. Keep learning. But most of all, keep planting for those pollinators to change your little world, one plant at a time. Which will, in turn, change the world for more than just you.
Oleander aphids on milkweed with aphid predators
Photograph by Tatia Veltkamp
We’d like to introduce you to the authors that will be contributing regularly to our blog, so you’ll have some faces, names and a little history behind why we are all on this journey together. Enjoy!
“we hope that you will find that guidance or little tidbit that will encourage you to keep trying. Keep growing. Keep learning.”
I have served in community healthcare for the past 12 years specializing in emergency medicine working in the hospital setting as well as on the ambulance. I get a lot of satisfaction out of caring for the public and I believe true compassion, respect, and peace comes from the bottom up. If you have compassion for our environment first, you’d also have a natural interest in caring for people.
My heart truly lies within nature and my love for animals started at a very young age. I was raised to respect all life and I was always encouraged to explore. In such a busy, distracted world, people have lost sight of the environment and I want to not only teach others about my passion, but learn more and contribute in any way possible. I suffered several personal losses in my family and felt very drawn to gardening as a source of peace.
My interests began in native pollinator plants and simple, drought tolerant gardens that would sustain our pollinators. I love to watch things grow, thrive, and support not only myself but all the critters in my yard. I reached out to Tatia, owner of Wings of Enchantment, for volunteer work looking to learn everything possible about raising butterflies. To my surprise, Tatia and I shared the same goals and ideas. By fate, I was given the opportunity to work with Wings of Enchantment not only to learn more, but to show others how important habitat restoration is to our everyday life and how easily we can give back! I find it to be the perfect complement to my career in healthcare, which can be stressful at times. Butterflies are a symbol of rebirth, regrowth and transformation, and that fits perfectly with my own personal philosophy.
Growing up I recall always being exceptionally fond of the “creepy crawlies” or the animals most people overlook. When I was in third grade, I would spend my free time watching ant hills and admiring how hard they worked to get the job done. My fondest memories include the adventures I’d have exploring the forests with my family and learning about the wildlife that inhabited those areas.
From an early age I was hooked on nature and wildlife which led me to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho. I have been privileged with many different opportunities including wildlife research, ecosystem restoration, as well as formal outdoor education for children. I realized that my true passion was with the plants and the amazing creatures they support. For the past few years, I have helped monitor monarch waystations counting eggs and caterpillars, creating ecosystem gardens for homeowners with native and wildlife friendly plants, as well as developing environmental education materials for teachers specifically focused on butterflies.
One of my favorite past times is strolling through my garden with a cup of coffee while turning leaves over and looking for butterfly eggs. The future of our natural world and wildlife depends on the actions we take now to increase habitat and teach new generations that nature and animals are not to be overlooked.
My love of butterflies started when my kids were young and I was looking for fun things to do with them. I read an article in Family Fun Magazine all about how to go find monarch eggs and caterpillars. That sounded like a lot of fun to me. So I rounded up a friend and her two little kids and we went hunting. Although clueless, we came back with eggs, milkweed and a curiosity about the whole process. We raised maybe 6 butterflies that first time around and we were thrilled and hooked! We went back annually to that same site and with skill and experience raised more and more butterflies each year. Our kids were getting science and having fun at the same time.
One year, I wanted to do more than just release the butterflies, I wanted to facilitate a second generation! Since I had no idea what I was doing, I looked online and found a trade organization for butterfly breeders. There was a conference just 2 months away and my husband and I decided to find out more. When the conference ended, we drove all the way home, knowing this was the business we would pursue. It was unique, there were not many people doing it, and there were a lot of potential avenues to look at.
Since 2010, my husband and I have run Wings of Enchantment Butterfly Farm. We bring educational programs on the life cycle of the butterfly to the public. We sell butterflies for release at special occasions and butterfly life cycle kits. I have worked with the Xerces Society on habitat restoration for the Monarch butterfly. We work with Southwest Monarch Study in Arizona to study the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies in the Southwest.
We are so excited that you are joining us for our new blog! Please let us know in the comments below if you have topics you’d love to see us talk about. We hope you find some really helpful tidbits in our posts along the way.