Bound Book/eBook

Rebecca L. Jordi
County Extension Director/Horticulture

Jordi, R.L.*1,
1 County Extension Director/Horticulture, UF/IFAS, Callahan, FL, 32011

The zebra longwing butterfly is the state butterfly of Florida, and the Nassau County Master Gardener volunteers wanted to do all they could to encourage an increase of the butterfly numbers in Northeast Florida. We also wanted to reinforce several of the core standards required by the State for elementary students such as recognizing the butterfly life cycle and the skill of designing bar graphs.  So, we came up with the idea of the “Zebra Project.” To do this, we erected a lattice fence 6 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Three passionflower vines were planted to climb the fence.  Part of the lattice was planted in the sun (attracts Gulf fritillary butterflies) and the other planted in shade to encourage zebra longwings. The lattice fences were placed at two difference sites:  one in downtown Fernandina Beach with a group called America’s Youth (all minorities) and the second was at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Yulee. The youth’s first reaction was amazement because they did not know caterpillars could be beneficial if they were eating plant leaves.  The book is about a zebra longwing butterfly named Zoe.  She gets far away from home and on her way back home she comes across four other butterfly friends who guide her. In addition to the story, the book contains all five butterfly life cycles, a glossary, and a short list of butterfly host plants.  The target audience is third to fifth graders. The book has been reviewed and edited by eight degreed professionals including teachers, a librarian and a writer for the National Archives.  After writing the story I requested the help of two Master Gardener volunteers to do the illustrations and the graphic artwork. The value of their input was over $140,000.  It took 3 years to write, edit, create the illustrations and place the work in book form.  All the proceeds of the sale of the book go to the Nassau County Extension Horticulture program to support 4-H youth programs like the Zebra Project and other adult horticulture education programs.  This spring the counting and graphing will begin.