Second Annual Butterfly Day

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Sunday, June 2 could not have been a better day to host the second annual Butterfly Day event at Bill Buerge’s Mountain Mermaid.

Topanga Canyon was in bloom as the Topanga Elementary Charter School Science Committee partnered with Bill Buerge of the Topanga Mountain Mermaid and the Topanga Town Council in what has become a community outreach effort on behalf of Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS).

This outreach satisfies two goals: Raising awareness of the important role played by pollinators in our environment; Forging and strengthening relationships between Topanga school children and the broader community by bringing people together around themes that resonate in the canyon. This year we enjoyed robust participation with 500 visitors to Buerge’s beautiful home and gardens, a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Butterfly Habitat for migrating butterflies and dozens of butterfly-supportive native plants.

The Science Committee of Topanga Elementary organized environmental partners, musicians, food, and hands-on activities to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Live music was provided by current and former school parents, Pearl Aday and Donna DeLory, and Topanga Elementary graduates Aurora Finetti, Allegra Frost, and Freya Dalgaard.  

Regional and national partners such as the NWF, California Native Plant Society, Malibu Monarch Project, Topanga Creek Watershed Committee, Topanga State Park Docents, and the Topanga Town Council, shared educational materials about supporting pollinators.  

Sergio Jimenez, plant propagation specialist for the Mermaid, sold native butterfly host and nectar plants. Visitors enjoyed a live beehive from Greener Power Empowerment Foundation and honey from Eli’s Bees. Local artists Matt Doolin of Topanga Art & Tile, and Anneli Vasser offered nature-themed tiles and jewelry for sale. Local artist David Russo captured the event in a beautiful art piece that he painted throughout the day. His piece will be auctioned to support Topanga Elementary.

Hands-on activities included making seed bombs and tie-dye scarves, face painting, origami, and butterfly-themed art projects run by the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Committee of Topanga Elementary. The VAPA team also provided a butterfly collage made by schoolchildren, also to be auctioned to support the school. Theatricum Botanicum actors, dressed as fairies, charmed the guests. We enjoyed books shared by the Topanga Library and learned about nature-themed writings by local writer, Lisa Desimi.

As with every successful event, delicious food and drinks nourished and refreshed the participants. Local baker and culinary artist, Patrice Winter, donated extraordinary butterfly cookies and floral baked goods. Bonnie Graves of Girl Meets Grape and Larry Sandoval donated wine. Bernhard Penzias made sure sound filled the musical appetite of visitors.  Several community members brought food and donated their time and talents to make the event possible. Special thanks to Hannah Wear, Petra Sapir, Kristine Sloane, and Stephen Powers. We are grateful to all our partners and participants for making Butterfly Day a magical community event.


By Alisa and Kent Land Hill


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