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Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail’s Annual Symposium Celebrates 10 years

     The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail recently held its annual symposium. The Trail is celebrating its 10th anniversary from when the first pollinator garden was established at the Carter’s home in Plains. Co-sponsors for the event were Lazy K Nursery, Café Campesino, and the Garden Club of Georgia. The event held at the Plains Community Center hosted numerous educational presentations and a plant sale featuring native plants.

     The keynote speaker was Dr. Jaap de Roode, Professor of Biology at Emory University. Dr. de Roode is Director of the de Roode Monarch Research Laboratory where he studies the OE parasite that seriously affects Monarch health. One interesting note concerning the parasite is that it can spread by school classroom “Rear and Release” programs. He reported that 50% or more of these purchased Butterfly pupae used in classroom settings are infected and will spread the OE parasite to the natural monarch population. He strongly recommends that the best way to help monarch populations is to increase their habitat by planting milk weeds. Even though this is not as exciting as releasing a commercially produced butterfly, it is safer and much more productive for the natural populations.

     Also, presenting at the symposium was Felicity Davis. She is a landscape architect, with the Georgia Department of Transportation heading up their Wildflower/Pollinator Initiative. Many years ago, Georgia planted wildflowers along right of ways on major highways in the state. The sites were beautiful and saved the state a lot of money on mowing. The State has already planted several large areas in some high visibility areas, like rest stops, with annuals and perennials that will encourage all pollinating insects. It is a win/win for the pollinators, the State, and visitors to the state.

      Bess Hartley, Second Vice President of the Garden Clubs of Georgia, entertained the audience with “What Butterflies can Teach Us”. The Garden Club is a long standing co-sponsor of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

     In addition to the educational presentations, participants enjoyed a native plant sale including the rare Rosalynn Carter Native Azalea. A special 10th anniversary Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail T-shirt was also unveiled at the event.

     The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It works with individuals and organizations in establishing habitat for butterflies as well as other pollinators. There are over 3000 private and public gardens registered with the trail. For more information on the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, go to You can also find more information on the Facebook page. Join the Trail, it’s free!

Rosalynn Smith Carter 1927-2023

The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail Board of Directors is saddened to share the news of the passing of Rosalynn Carter. She touched millions of people through her work with The Carter Center and the Rosalynn Carter Institute. Her love for nature was the inspiration behind the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail was created February 2013. It began as one garden at President and Mrs. Carter’s home in Plains, Georgia. She had read an article in a local magazine about the decline in Monarch butterflies. As a child she remembered playing outside with butterflies fluttering around her mother’s flowerbeds and native tuberosa milkweed growing behind their home. These fond memories led to a phone call to Annette Wise. After sharing the article and expressing her desire to have a pollinator garden, Annette was asked to help her. The location for the pollinator garden was selected and work began.