Birds and Butterflies

Raptor day is a wrap. Jonathan Gonzales of Raptor Events (pictured) collaborated with TECS teachers and TECS Science Committee to explore raptor and reptile biology with children of all grades at Topanga Elementary Charter School. This was our 2nd annual Raptor Day. Jonathan is FANTASTIC and has valuable insight for kids about following their passions. For upcoming raptor events: Photo by Paul Schefz

In the past few months, the Science Committee at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) has been engaging our school and community in support of our local wildlife. On December 6th, the school hosted their second annual Raptor Day event.

Raptor Events offered their educational live animal show featuring owls, falcons, vultures, turtles, and snakes. Children learned about animal biology, habitat, behavior, and some of the challenges facing these animals in an era of climate change and shrinking habitat.  Children and adults alike delighted in engaging with the animals up close and learning more about these extraordinary creatures and their role in our natural world.

The Science Committee has also partnered with the Greener Empowerment Foundation of Topanga, in support of butterflies through the Monarch Pollinator Stewardship Program. Last summer, we received a plant award from the Xerces Society for the Conservation of Invertebrates—1,600 native plants that support habitat for the critically endangered Western Monarch butterflies.

We have since planted these natives at many sites in Topanga. More than 500 plants were installed on the TECS campus in existing garden sites as well as within the school’s five acres of oak woodland. Children played an active role in planting and learned about the role of different plants in the life cycle of butterflies and other pollinators.

We also engaged several community partners as stewards for pollinator habitat plants. Students from Manzanita School and Topanga Mountain School (Mesa location) planted on their campuses. Local business owners and volunteers assisted with plantings at the Topanga Library, the Topanga Creek General Store area, Sassafras Shoppe, Theatricum Botanicum, Moona Star boutique, Flower Power, and Café 27, as well as several private residences. We particularly wish to thank Pami Ozaki of Sassafras Shoppe for her technical support; John Bertolli, parent and  local contractor, for his donated labor; and Deborah Meijer, TECS grandparent, for her generous financial gift. 

On December 18th, we held a dedication ceremony to honor our fragile butterflies and wish them success in the years ahead. In the coming months, we will be working with the Greener Empowerment Foundation on the Topanga Stewardship Project, creating markers with a monarch symbol to designate all the sites participating in this community-wide effort. If you wish to participate in any way with this project, we are still raising funds and need plant stewards and artistic support for making markers. 

Contact Alisa Land from Topanga Elementary Charter School Science Committee at; or Hannah Wear, of Greener Empowerment Foundation at



  • Topanga Nights, Our Place in Space—April 17, at TCC with telescope viewing, expert speakers, space-themed art, an interactive dome, cocoa and cider. 
  • Third Annual Butterfly Day—May 31, at the Mountain Mermaid. See live bees and butterflies, enjoy great food, and live music. Learn from environmental partners, while children participate in pollinator-themed art and activities.


TECS News Team


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