GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History has received a $94,409 grant from the Florida Wildflower Advisory Council and the Florida Wildflower Foundation Inc. for projects that educate the public about Florida’s wildflowers and butterflies.
The “Educating the Public about Florida’s Wildflowers and Butterflies” project will allow the Florida Museum to develop a 4,000-square-foot outdoor demonstration garden west of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. The museum also will develop a brochure, web site and indoor exhibit about Florida wildflowers and butterflies. Proceeds from sales of the state wildflower specialty license plate funded the grant.
“The Florida Museum’s Butterfly Rainforest has generated considerable visitor interest in butterfly gardening,” said Florida Museum Director of Informal Science Education & Outreach Betty Dunckel. “Our demonstration garden will showcase Florida’s native wildflowers and their importance as host and nectar plants for our native butterflies.”
The demonstration garden, which complements a University of Florida initiative to use native plants in landscaping, will be used as a teaching model by Florida Museum and UF classes studying botany, environmental horticulture, landscape architecture, butterfly gardening and native wildflowers.
The brochure will include 100 color photographs of Florida’s native wildflowers and butterflies. The photographs and additional information will be included on the project’s web site in an interactive format and searchable database. The indoor exhibit located in the McGuire Center will complement the outdoor garden through small dioramas that illustrate and explain the relationships among wildflowers and butterflies and their life cycles. Visitors can compare what they see in the dioramas with what they discover outside in the demonstration garden.
Principal investigator Dunckel and co-principal investigators Thomas C. Emmel and Jaret C. Daniels will oversee the project. Dunckel has worked for more than 30 years in informal education. Emmel is the director of the McGuire Center and has authored more than 400 publications on butterflies. Daniels, an insect ecologist, is the McGuire Center Rearing Lab director.
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Writer: Kristin Ede