Butterflies spread their wings to freedom

Published 11:51 am Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jamariun Evans, a first-grader at Riverdale Elementary School, holds out his arm where a butterfly has landed. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Jamariun Evans, a first-grader at Riverdale Elementary School, holds out his arm where a butterfly has landed. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

COURTLAND—Students and faculty in grades K through 4 at Riverdale Elementary School experienced a wonder of nature on Friday. That morning they assembled outside to release several dozen butterflies into the air.

These came courtesy of the International Paper Foundation, which annually provides the kits for free to elementary schools in Southampton County and Franklin. Packets of sunflower seeds were also distributed for the children to take home. IP Foundation also partners with Earth’s Birthday Project for these nature lessons.

“We are delighted to provide these environmental education resources to our local schools,” said Jenny Hutto, mill communications manager for International Paper. “We are thrilled to sponsor 159 local classrooms this year; that’s nearly 4,000 students and teachers who will have the opportunity to be a part of this unique experience.”

She mentioned that every area of the IP mill got involved with butterfly kits of their own.

Kevin Wiggins, a foreman at the fluff machine, said it was funny to watch co-workers who made it a point to check on the insects before first going to work.

Since the beginning of spring, the students watched and fed the provided caterpillars as they grew to the chrysalis stage. The creatures then spun cocoons to begin their individual metamorphosis. All the while, the youngsters studied about the lifecycle of the caterpillars and butterflies. The IP Teacher’s Guide was written for IP Butterfly Classrooms with lesson plan activities.

At the ceremony, the children gathered around the adults holding the cardboard kits that contained the colorful insects, which had days before emerged from their shells. As the panels were opened on the portable boxes that housed them, the butterflies flittered out. They either flew away in the breeze or first settled on children’s fingers and arms before taking off. The release was accompanied to the sounds of the youngsters’ yelps of delight.

Several of the students said they got to help during the growth stage by feeding the caterpillars and then butterflies. In a few boxes were orange slices from which they could gather nourishment.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity that IP has given for the wonderful study,” said Principal Debra Hicks. “The students were mesmerized by the lifecycle of the butterflies. It’s an excellent way to learn — hands-on and interactive.”

To learn more about how your school can participate in IP’s giving programs, contact Jenny Hutto: jennifer.hutto@ipaper.com. To learn more about Earth’s Birthday Project, call 800-698-4438 or visit http://earthsbirthday.org/butterflies.