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Student group spotlight: The Butterfly Club

We, at Sustainability Education, are working to provide students more opportunities to engage with sustainability beyond academics. As part of that effort, we are initiating a series titled “Student Group Spotlight” in which we will highlight different student groups on campus through a set of interview-style questions.

This is the first blog in that series where we interviewed Gayatri Narayanan, the President of the Butterfly Club!

Q: What is the history behind the Butterfly Club?

Butterfly Club is the country’s first Student Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association!

Q: What is the group’s mission?

Our mission is to promote the conservation and enjoyment of butterflies.

Q: What inspired the creation of the Butterfly Club?

The first lab I worked in studied butterflies, and so, I had my first field experience on a butterfly survey in North-East India. During my first semester here, I came to know through the Ecology Club that the North American Butterfly Association was looking for someone to start a Student Chapter. I started Butterfly Club with two amazing peers: Narmada Venkateswaran and Isabel Voigt. The three of us are constantly inspired by the fulfilment in connecting with our environment through butterflies.

Q: How does your group’s mission connect to sustainability?

Butterflies are a wonderful medium to talk about environmental justice. Our advisor, Dr. Emilie Snell-Rood uses butterflies to model how organisms respond to rapid changes in the environment. Posters and artwork at community events and protests use butterflies as symbols of (im)migration. We believe that butterflies represent an important intersection of science and community, and so, can be extremely useful to inform conversations about sustainability.

Q: How often does the Butterfly Club meet?

This semester, we meet once a month for a seminar. Please join our mailing list, and follow us on social media to stay informed about our events!

Q: What is this group excited about for this school year?

This is our first semester as an official club at the U! This means that we have to put in a ton of work to build a community around our mission, but it has been completely worth it. Our meetings have been engaging, personal and very informative. We are excited to continue hosting unique events that explore how relating personally to butterflies impacts the way we think about nature and our role in sustainability.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being the president of this group?

I went through a period this summer during which I was so scared that the club would fail. Then, I got back to campus, and after the Sustainability Action Fair, a trip to the Monarch Butterfly Festival and a seminar with Dr. Snell-Rood, I realized the power in bringing students together to celebrate the butterfly as a symbol of science and art. Realizing over and over, the impact of personally relating with science has been my favorite part about being President of the Butterfly Club. 

Q: How can students join/get involved in this group?

Email me at naray167@umn.edu!

Interviewed by: Mikaela Isaacson

Published by: Sai Powar

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