United Thank Offering

Grant Story: Final Report from the Diocese of Kansas 2022 Butterfly Grant

February 5, 2024
United Thank Offering

By Finance and Archives Committee

Each month we like to share the story of where your thank offering has gone in recent years. With all this talk of gratitude for creation, we couldn’t help but share this great story of some pollinators with the 2022 grant to the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

Tell us about your project.

This project had far-reaching impacts. Directly, we were able to educate over 400 elementary students, 38 teachers, and administrative staff about the importance of caring for creation through an intensive look at the life of the monarch butterfly. Those involved learned about the importance of pollinators and the many ways that we can help boost the populations of those pollinators, monarchs in particular. One student told me, “Before this, I didn’t know that butterflies mattered. I just thought they were pretty.” A teacher told me, “I remember raising butterflies when I was in school, but I learned some new things about their importance. I think it’s cool that a religious group cares enough to do a project like this.” 

There was an unexpected impact on high school students in the school next to Bethany House and Garden. Several classes came to observe the tagging and release day, and students took the time to ask us questions about biodiversity, pollinators, and why a church would think it was important to do a project like this. 

Finally, volunteers and staff at Monarch Watch were heartened to see a religious organization join in the important work to which they have dedicated their lives. One staff member said, “I think it’s wonderful that you are willing to invest money in teaching kids about the environment and the monarch. The more kids that learn about the monarch life cycle and migration, the more adults we’ll have that will take action to promote the health of the monarch in the future.”

What was the best thing that happened as a part of this grant award?

It’s hard not to go for the easy answer and say that the best thing that happened was the successful release of over 300 butterflies! It was an amazing sight to see all those monarchs as they prepared to move south. But the truly best thing that happened was to see the joy in the students’ faces and hear them talk about how they want to help the monarch and other creatures. One student said, “I thought they were just bugs, but now I know that bugs aren’t just bugs, too!” The number of times that I heard students exclaim, “That’s so cool!” made my heart leap with joy. Kids told me stories about looking for monarchs and caterpillars. Other kids told me that they didn’t know that scientists did things like studying monarchs. These children’s hearts were opened to the plight of the monarch and to the problems of decreasing biodiversity. They also began to see the connection (particularly older children) between the monarch and themselves as neighbors on our planet. 

I also need to share the enthusiasm of the teachers. It meant a lot to them that we were willing to invest time and energy in their classrooms. One teacher noted, “We have groups come in with some big idea like this that doesn’t really land. This project was well planned, and your follow-through was great!” The project showed our respect for their jobs as teachers and appreciation for the work they put in, because the Bethany House and Garden staff did the legwork of finding milkweed, feeding the caterpillars, and cleaning the cages. Their students were able to enjoy the project without us adding to the teachers’ workload. 

If you found this story as inspiring as we did, we hope you’ll make a donation to UTO so we can fund projects just like this one in 2025.

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

Click here