Looking Forward

Looking Forward

by Karina Franke

As you know, last year, I started a campaign to get the Karner Blue named State Butterfly. The highlight of the project was being honored at your November 2007 Dinner and speaking to you about my project. That was such a special evening for my family and my teacher, and we’re so happy to be here tonight celebrating your 30th anniversary.

Over 33,000 third, fourth, and fifth graders from all over our state participated in the State Butterfly Election. Unfortunately, the Karner Blue lost to the Red-Spotted Purple/ White Admiral by less than 3% – 11,489 votes for the Karner compared 12,461 for the Admiral. I’m, of course, disappointed our candidate did not win, but I’m grateful to Assemblywoman Galef for sponsoring the Vote. The contest brought a lot of attention to the Karner Blue and got many kids talking and thinking about what conservation is. Before the contest, not many people outside the Albany, Saratoga, and Wilton areas had heard of the Karner Blue. Today, thousands upon thousands more children – and many, many more teachers, too – know about this beautiful endangered butterfly that our state is home to.

Getting the Karner Blue designated State Butterfly was a means to the end – not an end to the means. We wanted the Karner Blue to be named State Butterfly to raise awareness and gain additional support for the projects that will save this butterfly from extinction.

The State Butterfly Election was just the beginning. Our focus continues to be awareness. I’ve drafted a letter to the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee suggesting that the Karner Blue be put on a stamp. And our big 2008 project is getting the Karner Blue into SCIENCE 21 curriculum. Around 200 schools in the Hudson Valley and Long Island use SCIENCE 21 so I recently drafted a letter to the program coordinator requesting an update to the Third Grade Butterfly Unit. It just doesn’t seem right that the only New York butterfly on the federally endangered species list is not even mentioned in this unit!

To get a Karner update in SCIENCE 21, we need to get input and letters of support from government leaders and environmental experts. This afternoon, I met with the top environmental leaders in New York State government. First, I met with Deputy Secretary for the Environment Judith Enck. Later in the afternoon, I met with the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, Pete Grannis. I also met with Senator Leibell’s environmental staff lead, Robert Farley, earlier in the day. They all admire your work and wish you Happy Anniversary, AND they’re all on board about lending support to getting the Karner Blue into the Science 21 curriculum! My plan is to ask Senator Leibell and Assemblywoman Galef – my state legislators – to pass on the Karner curriculum idea and request for letters of support to their colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly whose school districts use SCIENCE 21.

Including the Karner Blue in elementary school science curriculums is not only a sure way to raise awareness among future classes of third graders, but also an excellent way to introduce students to environmental conservation. As you know, the Karner Blue faces serious threats at each stage of its life cycle. The potential impact of updating Unit 4 to include the Karner Blue is huge. Children who learn about the Karner Blue will be more likely to wonder how many animals are losing their homes each time a new theatre, hotel, or shopping mall goes up. When they are old enough to vote, they’ll be more likely to give serious consideration to conservation issues and endangered species protection. And when they grow up, they’ll be more likely to encourage the officials whom they elect to take the steps needed to protect the land where they and their families make their homes.

So, today we are moving into the next phase of our Karner Blue Awareness Campaign. Tonight, we unveil our newly designed materials. Here is the newest version of our Karner poem: and a sample letter to send to Dr. Bergman, coordinator of SCIENCE 21.

Sample Letter to support Karina Franke’s
Science‌ 21 Proje

Dr. Abby B. Bergman
SCIENCE 21 Coordinator
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES
200 BOCES Drive
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598-4399

Dear Dr. Bergman,

I am writing this letter in support of Karina Franke’s proposal – on behalf of the Karner Kids – to integrate the endangered Karner Blue butterfly into the SCIENCE 21 Third Grade Butterfly Unit developed by BOCES and used by many school districts in New York State. The Karner Blue is the only butterfly in New York that is on the federally endangered species list.

The study of butterflies is a popular choice among New York school districts for meeting the State K-12 Living Environment Learning Standards and Performance Indicators. The endangered Karner Blue is an ideal candidate for meeting these standards. Its life cycle is similar to that of many other butterflies, but unlike many others, Karner Blue caterpillars feed on the leaves of one and only one plant, wild lupine. In addition, the Karner Blue butterfly faces many human-caused and natural threats at each of the four development stages. If children recognize these threats and learn how to combat them, they will begin to understand the negative and positive impacts society has on the environment.

The Karner Blue was once endangered in Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, and Ontario. Today, it is now extinct in those same places. Although conservation efforts to preserve, protect, and actively manage Karner Blue New York habitats are in place, the Karner’s future remains uncertain largely due to continued land development. However, there is nothing uncertain about extinction: Extinction means gone forever. Including the Karner Blue in the SCIENCE 21 curriculum is not only a great way to increase awareness. It is also an incredible opportunity to instill a sense of environmental respect and responsibility. What better time to plant and cultivate this than the impressionable years of elementary school!


Wanted: Karner Kids

By Karina Franke

Become a Karner Kid!
Please come join our bid
To fill the New York skies
With Karner Blue butterflies.

The question is what can you do
For the endangered Karner Blue?
Lend a hand and get in the game!
Grab a pen and sign your name!
Make all of New York hear our cry
To protect our beloved butterfly.

Saving the Pine Bush is the only choice!
For if the Karner Blue had a voice
It would tell an incredibly sad story
One filled with amazing past glory –
A time when clouds of Karner butterflies
Swarmed New York’s pine barren skies.

Today, Karner Blue numbers are way low.
Let’s bring back their beautiful blue glow!
You’ve heard the what, the how, and the why


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