Cocooning pays dividends for local environmental group

A butterfly adoption program helps keep the Alouette River Management Society in Maple Ridge afloat

While most across B.C. were cocooned in their homes during the COVID shut downs, a few hundred local people took time to feed and nurture caterpillars as they metamorphosed in butterflies. And, in doing so, they also helped raise some needed money for a Maple Ridge environmental group.

A relatively new butterfly adoption program, hosted by the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), translated to a big shot in the arm for the environmental stewardship organization that was forced – like many groups – to shut down operations early this spring as a direct result of the coronavirus.

Closing its centre and halting all its community-outreach programs – internally and those held out in the public – hit the bottom line for this organization pretty hard, according to executive director Greta Borick-Cunningham.

A large chunk of ARMS $150,000 annual operating budget typically comes from the spring education classes and camps. Shut downs meant a loss of at least $20,000 directly attributed to those programs alone, she explained.

Thankfully, Borick-Cunningham said, people’s love of butterflies has helped provide her group with a much needed infusion of cash. And she’s looking for a few other similar initiatives.

The butterfly adoption program, which started in 2019, was expanded this year. And thanks to the spread of word through social media it doubled last year’s participation of 100, and netted ARMS $6,100.

“Those additional funds were sort plowed back to make up some of the lost revenue from the spring education… It does make a big difference.”

All 200 of this year’s supporters had the chance to adopt a Painted Lady caterpillar larvae from ARMS, and due to the pandemic it was hand delivered to their front step.

The adoption program allowed folks – most of them children already self-isolating at home with their families – to watch and learn the lifecycle of a butterfly change right before their eyes.

RELATED: ARMS in Maple Ridge chooses new president

It is proving a popular and growing program, said Borick-Cunningham, who expects it will be repeated and expanded again next butterfly season – which usually last about six weeks between mid-April and the end of May.

The fundraising initiative is one part of their pollinating program, which also includes school visits, public beekeeping workshops, and participation in numerous community events hosted by other organizations.

This year, due to the virus, “that came to a grinding halt,” said Borick-Cunningham, who’s also missing the chance to get her organization and its education and advocacy efforts out in front of the community.

Nevertheless, she said she’s grateful for the extra money raised from the butterflies.

But she’s now casting about for other fundraising options for ARMS, given their new reality.

For instance, the group is looking at hosting a virtual salmon adoption this fall, or alternatively selling owl or chickadee houses in kit form that can be built at home as a family project.

“We have to be creative to help leverage the funds that we’ve lost,” she said, pointing to the annual June fundraising dinner as another example. That event usually sells out with about 100 people and brings in about $8,500. It had to be cancelled due to COVID-related restrictions on gatherings, but Borick-Cunningham said they’re considering hosting a virtual dinner this fall.

For more information about ARMS, people can visit their website.


• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusEnvironmentmaple ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Slight decrease in homelessness in Maple Ridge

2020 Homeless Count finds 114 people without housing in the city

‘Frugal’ Maple Ridge lottery winner ponders purchases

Local lawn bowler plans to buy an SUV and some kitchen appliances with half-million dollar windfall

Premier in Maple Ridge for health care announcement

Urgent and primary care centre gets permanent home in Haney Place Mall

B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

WEATHER: Heavy rain, mix of sun and cloud forecasted for Ridge Meadows

Temperatures will reach a high of 20 C Thursday

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Most Read