The Real Butterfly Lady

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This bench was dedicated to Jack and Marjorie Carlin by their children. It sits at the top of the butterfly garden at The Outdoor Campus, giving visitors a view of the incredible garden their parents created.

By Thea Miller Ryan

In the 18 years we’ve been open, you meet a lot of colorful folks. None are so colorful as our volunteers, who have splashed us with a pallet of vibrancy over the years.

Today our world lost a little bit of color. We found out Marjorie Carlin left us here, taking a bit of every color of the rainbow with her. Marjorie was our original butterfly garden lady.

In 1997 we trained our first group of volunteers – Marjorie and her husband Jack among them. The two Carlins didn’t take long to approach me. “We can’t have a nature center without a garden,” they insisted. I was up to my eyeballs in this new place,and the thought of even planting a pot full of flowers was more than overwhelming. “We’ll do it. We love gardening. We’ll make it for butterflies,” they promised.

Their promises were their word.

Soon, 6,000 sq. feet of park grass was an amazing, thriving, growing butterfly garden. You’ve never seen the likes of it. It even inspired an annual festival, Butterfly Garden Day, that carried on until the butterfly house across the road was built and took over butterfly education.

Marjorie and Jack were here, every single day (even Sundays!) for hours. When they “retired” from the garden, Marj had put in 1,665.39 hours and Jack had 1,159.27. That’s 2,824.66 hours… the equivalent of a full-time person.

All our volunteers continue to give, and will continue to bring us the colors we lost today. We will miss you, Marjorie. I hope Heaven is full of flowers.

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