Marnie, a Power To Be participant, was chosen to be a Butterfly Ranger volunteer in the Butterflyway Project with The David Suzuki Foundation. With a passion for the project and all things nature, Marnie discusses being a butterfly ranger, how Power To Be has contributed to her experiences in nature, and gives some tips on how to be a good environmental steward.

What about being a Butterfly Ranger excites you, and what do you want others to know relating to being a steward for the butterflies?

The Butterflyway Project is a volunteer-led movement through the David Suzuki Foundation that is growing habitats for bees and butterflies in different neighbourhoods throughout Canada. Wild pollinators such as butterflies and bees are crucial to human survival. Climate change, development, and widespread pesticide use are compromising their habitat and food sources. This project aims to help people step up efforts to help pollinators find food and shelter. Butterflyway Rangers are recruited and chosen and help make their communities greener and healthier, one fun planting project and community event at a time. Rangers are community builders and nature lovers who care. They get online leadership training and learn skills to influence and bring people together. They learn about the wonders of bees, butterflies and wildflowers.

The Butterflyway Project began in five Canadian cities in 2017. Their mission was to plant native wildflowers in yards, schoolyards, streets, and parks to support bees and butterflies. The goal was to establish local “Butterflyways” by planting at least a dozen pollinator patches in each neighbourhood or community.

Over the past four years, the David Suzuki Foundation has trained 1,008 Butterflyway Rangers from over 100 communities. They have connected with neighbours, schools, city agencies, businesses, and community groups. To date, they have helped:

  • Get 54,000 butterfly-friendly wildflowers into the ground.
  • Create 1000+ pollinator patches.
  • Establish official Butterflyways in 15 communities.

The Butterflyway Project shows that people can make a big difference. Rangers make their communities greener and healthier. In 2020, the Butterflyway Project received the Canadian Museum of Nature’s 2020 Nature Inspiration Award!

Did your involvement with Power To Be inspire you to want to get involved in more environmental initiatives?

As a child, my parents taught us a love for animals, nature and the environment. We helped save the salmon at Stoney Creek in Sooke, participated in Earth Day activities with Brownies and Girl Guides. My family had a hobby farm with animals and a garden where we did chores of planting and picking the vegetables and fruit from our orchard every summer. My grandparents lived next door and they had chickens, a larger garden and orchard that we helped with often. We were fortunate to see lots of great natural environments when we explored places and parks on camping trips and on our boat.

I have always been someone who cares about the environment and a nature lover. Being a participant with Power To Be is a good fit as this non-profit organization also cares about the environment and is careful about their environmental footprint. Whether it was speaking to parks representatives or advocating for food security initiatives or conservation efforts, Power To Be and my values align.

What does environmental literacy mean to you?

Environmental Literacy encompasses experiences, understanding, and action. While knowledge and understanding are important components of environmentally literate citizens, the key is connecting what we know and what we do. There is evidence that exposure to nature while growing up reduces stress, improves physical and mental health, stimulates creativity, and builds self-esteem. The work of Joy Palmer, an environmental educational researcher, found that regular exposure to nature is the single most important factor in fostering care and concern for the environment.

Everyone, no matter their age or ability, can do something positive for the environment. Tending a garden, raising butterflies, caring for a natural area, or reducing energy consumption are just some of the simple ways you can make a positive impact in your own community. Every positive action leads to a sense of hope. And every bit of hope is empowering.

How would you inspire others to become stronger environmental stewards?

Stewardship means a sense of connection to, caring about and responsibility for each other and the natural world around us. Every single one of us is affected by the environment. If it suffers, then so do we. We need to be concerned about what is happening to it so that we can start to take action. We should all think about the impact that our actions and decisions have on the environment and try to minimize the effect we have. Remember that we are the only caretakers of the planet and will be leaving a legacy to future generations. It is our responsibility to hand over the planet in the best possible state to children who will be the future generation and our next leaders. Power To Be educates and inspires the nature-lover and protector in all of us. Together we can make a positive difference and help improve the environment. Everyone should do their part! What will you do today to help the environment?