Passion Takes Flight: Interns Find New Paths With Butterfly Exhibit

By Ta’Leah Van Sistine, Marketing & Communications Intern

At this time last year, Butterflies & Blooms was only a blip on our radar, but with months of planning and tremendous support from our community, we’ve been able to educate thousands of visitors this summer about native pollinators, plants and their crucial role in our ecosystem. Your willingness to support us also helped hire two additional full-time interns for our Horticulture team who are assisting with this brand new exhibit.

Affectionately known as the “butterfly moms” around the Garden, Breanna Leitzke and Madisen Hartlaub joined our team in mid-May and were essentially in charge of the butterflies’ wellbeing. Their passion for these winged wonders stemmed far beyond their 40-hour workweeks. Among the many things they learned, they also discovered that butterflies have unique personalities. Swallowtails are stubborn, Red Admirals are aggressive and Monarchs are typically happy-go-lucky, just to name a few.


Breanna releasing butterflies from the chrysalis chamber.

As our butterfly ambassadors, Breanna and Madisen had a variety of daily responsibilities. They cleaned the butterfly house, swapped out food including rotten fruit and released butterflies from the chrysalis chamber after they emerged. That doesn’t even include all the prep work and skills they had to learn before the exhibit! They also educated visitors about butterfly behavior, how to safely interact butterflies and where visitors could find more ways to support pollinators.

Both interns are in science fields at the moment, with Breanna studying organismal biology at St. Norbert College and Madisen studying wildlife ecology and management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Working at the Garden over the summer has been an exciting opportunity, says Breanna, because she’s from the Green Bay area and has always enjoyed coming to the Garden. Her interest in butterflies has grown significantly, too. In the past, she rarely came across them in her everyday life.

“This was honestly like my number one spot for an internship,” Breanna says with a smile. “Who gets to work with butterflies every day?”


Madisen attaching chrysalises to the chrysalis chamber. PC: John Oates Photography

For Madisen, working in the Garden’s first-ever interactive butterfly exhibit was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

She‘s going into her sophomore year at UW-Stevens Point this fall, so she’s still narrowing down her career path, but Madisen ultimately knows that she wants to get into animal rehabilitation of some kind.

“I don’t know where I exactly want to go with that, but I think this was a good way for me to work with an animal that I wouldn’t normally work with,” says Madisen. “I’ve already learned so much that you wouldn’t expect to.”

Madisen and Breanna appreciated the chance to share information with visitors one-on-one. Some of the visitors’ questions actually motivated them to investigate for answers long after their shifts ended. From discovering the differences between moths and butterflies to identifying other insects in the pollinator garden, Breanna and Madisen shared that they did a lot of research to be able to satisfy our visitors’ curiosity and their own.

They also shared that people were often intrigued and excited about the butterflies when they visited the exhibit, rather than frightened of them. They hope that those same individuals will want to continue learning about pollinators after they leave the exhibit, maybe even bring friends and family back to experience Butterflies & Blooms themselves next year.

“Insects in general are something I feel like people kind of get turned off by,” says Madisen. “So I think this is a cool experience for the public to get hands-on experiences with. At first, they might be like ‘Oh that’s a butterfly,’ but there’s so much more to it.”

Susan Garot, Executive Director, also agrees that Butterflies & Blooms has been an extremely beneficial learning experience for both the Garden’s visitors and our interns.

“The ability to watch how visitors interact with nature is a great learning opportunity for our interns,” says Susan. “They, like our visitors, are learning something new nearly every day!”

girl with butterfly on stick PC John Oates Photography

PC: John Oates Photography

Because of support from Garden lovers like you, we were able to give Breanna and Madisen real-world experience and the unique chance to work with and learn about butterflies. With these types of vibrant, hands-on opportunities, interns are inspired and inspire others to pursue careers, hobbies and more paths connected to plants and nature. With your help in the years to come, we can continue to provide these types of invaluable experiences for future interns like Breanna and Madisen, which in turn help us educate visitors of all ages and backgrounds on how to appreciate, respect and love nature, including our precious pollinators. Whether you’re a visitor, a donor, a member or simply a plant person like us, your support is instrumental in everything we do and Green Bay Botanical Garden wouldn’t be possible without your generosity.

You can still see our interns in action – and ask them questions while surrounded by native butterflies! – during the final days of Butterflies & Blooms through August 31.

woman feeding butterflies

PC: John Oates Photography

You Can Make a Difference

The Garden needs your help to continue to provide more than 183,000 annual visitors access to a living museum of beautiful plants, outstanding educational opportunities and engaging events and exhibits. Your support will provide exceptional garden experiences that will continue to grow memories for many years to come.

Ways of Giving

Coming fall of 2019 – Monthly Giving Option

Be a champion for nature all year long! This easy, affordable and automatic monthly gift of your choosing puts less stress on your bank account, and continually helps us make a lasting impact on our Garden community in every season.

Monetary Gifts

Visit our giving page to donate online.

IRA Charitable Rollover

If you are 70 ½ or older you can take advantage of a simple way to benefit the Garden and receive tax benefits in return. You can give up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to a qualified charity such as ours without having to pay income taxes on the money.

This law no longer has an expiration date so you are free to make annual gifts to our organization this year and well into the future.

Gifts of Stock 

Gifts of appreciated securities may provide significant tax benefits.

Employer Matching Gifts

Many companies match gifts to the Garden made by their employees. Some companies match 2:1 or even 3:1 which means your gift is doubled or tripled in your name. Some companies also match donations of their retirees! To find out if your company matches donations, contact your human resources department.

For more information on how you can support the Garden or how to transfer Gifts of Stock or IRA gifts, contact Cindy Berton, Director of Development at 920.491.3691 ext. 104 or