Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly may soon be restored through prison recovery programs
September 14, 2016

LACEY, Wash. – An unusual project that is helping to recover an endangered Northwest butterfly while also giving a new sense of purpose to women incarcerated in the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women will be the focus of this year’s first Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture at Saint Martin’s University. The lecture will be from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 in Harned Hall Room 110 on Saint Martin’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way S.E. The lecture is free and the public is invited to attend.

In their lecture, “Metamorphosis: Profound Social Change Through Science and Sustainability Education,” Kelli Bush, program manager for the Sustainability in Prisons Program – a partnership of The Evergreen State College and the Washington State Department of Corrections – and Mary Linders, M.S., an endangered species recovery biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will discuss how the project is changing lives and the environment.

In 2011, the program launched a new collaborative endeavor at the Mission Creek Correction Center to help save the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly. The handsome butterflies once flourished on the lush prairies of the Pacific Northwest and now are listed as an endangered species. Under the program, the checkerspots are raised indoors in what is called a “captive rearing program” for release on prairies in the South Sound region. The meticulous, delicate work and painstaking record-keeping involved during each stage of the butterflies’ lives as they are raised for release are being performed by Mission Creek inmates, who are vital to the project’s success.

"We are involving incarcerated individuals in environmental education, sustainable living practices, wildlife recovery and habitat restoration and, in turn, supporting personal transformation while reducing the environmental, human and economic costs of prisons," Bush said.

Bush, a graduate of The Evergreen State College with a degree in agricultural ecology, has managed and expanded the Sustainability in Prisons Program since 2010. Her 15 years of experience and advanced studies in horticulture stem from what she calls her “passion for all things growing,” a love that affects all areas of her life. Earlier work with the Washington State Parks Dept. included grant-writing, ecosystem restoration, arboricultural consultation and environmental planning. With Washington State Parks, she also worked with incarcerated individuals to complete various conservation projects, an experience she found rewarding. She calls her work with the Sustainability in Prisons Project “a unique opportunity to tend to and grow an organization that simultaneously addresses social and environmental issues.”

Linders has worked on endangered species recovery as a biologist with State government for 13 years. During that time, she has helped protect populations of five prairie and oak-associated species in our region and lead the captive-rearing and population re-establishment effort for the federally endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly. Beginning with a single captive-rearing test trial, she has grown the program, an undertaking that now has two rearing facilities, 14 field sites and nine conservation partners. In doing so, she has transformed thousands of acres of degraded grassland to the high-quality native prairie necessary to sustain not only the endangered butterflies but also numerous other species dependent on the prairie. Linders has a master’s degree in wildlife science from the University of Washington in Seattle and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a combination that she says serves her well in finding balance between conservation efforts and competing human values.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s faculty member Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., professor and former chair of the Department of Society and Social Justice. He founded the series to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the University’s Department of Criminal Justice.

For more information, contact Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or rhauhart@stmartin.edu.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:
Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D.
Professor, Department of Society and Social Justice
360-438-4525; rhauhart@stmartin.edu

Deanna Partlow
Interim Media Relations Manager
360-412-6126; dpartlow@stmartin.edu