Master Naturalists Learn About Butterflies and More!

The Wildlife Prairie Park Butterfly Habitat was awarded a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Teamwork Award at an awards banquet in Champaign on June 13th.

The Master Gardener Teamwork Award recognizes groups of Master Gardeners who work together to accomplish a common goal for the betterment of their communities. The Kim St. John Butterfly Habitat is an excellent example of a joint Master Gardener and Master Naturalist project from the University of Illinois Extension Unit covering Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. 26 volunteers were recognized at the award banquet for their contributions to this project.

In 2011, Master Volunteers began a renovation of an existing butterfly garden at Wildlife Prairie Park near Peoria, IL which had become unused. Renovation was begun but the site proved too shady and the volunteers then decided to establish a native butterfly hoop house at a new sunny location. Volunteers secured grants and funding as well as donations. Construction of the project began in phases with over 2,500 volunteer hours given.

The new habitat is a 2,600 square foot metal hoop house filled with larval and nectar plants that attract native butterflies. Master volunteers worked on the house from inception through design and installation. In 2013 the garden reached 23,549 children and adults through 241 educational programs at the park, including educational sessions at the habitat.

Want to help with butterfly conservation efforts in your area? Consider becoming a Master Naturalist. The program is available in 83 of Illinois' 102 counties, with 15 locations offering training in fall 2014 or winter 2015. Go to to see if training is available near you.

Discover for yourself exciting ways to educate others in your community about the wondrous natural world.