The History of the National Butterfly Center
How We Began
The National Butterfly Center is a project of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and study of wild butterflies in their native habitats. This 100-acre wildlife center and native species botanical garden contains trails for exploring, observation areas, educational exhibits and a plant nursery. The National Butterfly Center is NABA's flagship facility and a primary focus of its efforts aimed at educating the public about the value of biodiversity, the beauty of the natural world, the wonder of butterflies, particularly, and the powerful role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems and sustainable food resources. The Center is open for exploration, daily.
future-plans-catepillarExpanding through Education & Collaboration
Formed in 1993, NABA has grown to over 4,500 members in 30 chapters across the United States. Thanks to efforts to educate the public about the importance of butterflies and the ways in which they benefit humans and the environment, butterflies are viewed as wildlife to be protected. NABA has been instrumental in saving magnificent Regal Fritillaries, as well as Miami Blues—now known from one single colony off Key West in Monroe County, Florida. NABA is on the steering committee of the Monarch Joint Venture, and is the only NGO on the South Florida Endangered Butterfly Working Group.
In addition, NABA runs the annual Butterfly Count Programs in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with the help of thousands of volunteers in the field. The published results of these counts are used by scientists to monitor butterfly population trends in North America, and serve as the nucleus of the NABA initiative to create a continent-wide database of activity known as Butterflies I've Seen, or BIS. Because butterflies are extremely sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, they serve as an early warning system for issues related to environmental degradation due to climate change, pollution, and more.
To promote the growth of wild butterfly populations, NABA encourages gardening and has developed a series of guides for those interested in creating habitats for butterflies and insects across North America. NABA Chapter members, whether master naturalists, hobbyists or enthusiasts, work within their communities to plant butterfly-friendly gardens at private residences and public places including local schools and parks.
The National Butterfly Center supports the education and conservation mission of NABA. Not only does The Center collaborate with the National Park Service to ensure the survival of Monarchs on their mass migration through the Rio Grande Valley, it recently partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to plant 12,000 plugs of rare grasses and endangered wildflowers in Fall, 2011, to create the Geoffrey McAllen Memorial Native Grassland and Wildflower Refugium. Moreover, thousands of local school children and residents, tourists, environmentalists and scientists all enjoy exploring the Center's grounds, and the opportunity to discover caterpillars, butterflies and other critters in the wild.