Jun 3rd, 2017

Meet Butterflies LIVE! Staff

When you visit Butterflies LIVE!, we understand that you’re here to see the butterflies, to drink in their beauty, and to consider their nature. That’s as it should be.

Butterfly education is our goal. Butterfly curators Jean Beard and Elliott Phillips

Butterfly curators Jean Beard and Elliott Phillips at the Grow Cart teaching about butterfly host and nectar plants.

Often times the butterflies will pique your curiosity and questions will bubble to mind. If so, we hope that you will find one of the butterfly curators  to ask. You might be asking yourself, “Who are these Butterfly Curators, anyway?” 

Their role at Butterflies LIVE! is to care for the butterflies, answer any questions you may have and teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about butterflies.

Butterfly Education

Exhibition Manager Kristin Thoroman explains, “Reflective of the exhibition itself, the curators bring a variety of expertise and experiences from across the fields of horticulture, entomology, and education.” Two of our curators, Sherry Giese and Matthew Daniel, don’t need an introduction as you will probably recognize them from past years. They are each featured in the 2015 “Meet the Butterflies LIVE! Staff” post and the 2016 “The Butterfly Keepers” blog post.  David Simpson,  also returns this year for his second season with the butterflies. Simpson has diverse talents an has worked in a varitey of jobs at the Garden. He helped our operations department set up Dominion Garden Fest of Lights last fall, and also works part time on our security staff.  Mary Lincoln is also returning, with three previous  seasons under her belt, after having worked many years here as a youth volunteer. She recently graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Brunette with goofy smile

Lauren Adelman

As you have probably guessed I am a butterfly curator, too. My name is Lauren Adelman and I think I have one of the neatest occupations — butterfly education.  I have an Associate of Applied Science degree in horticulture technology, and a certificate in sustainable agriculture from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.  I’ve worked at both Colesville Nursery and A Thyme to Plant, the wholesale division of Lavender Fields Farm. It was while working with plants that I became fascinated with soil life, insects, ecology and human impact on our ecosystem. My background in community theater and prior work at accredited child-care facilities, comes in handy all the time inside of Butterflies LIVE!  I love people, nearly as much as I love butterflies.

Now meet some of my coworkers!

butterfly curator Elliott Phillips engaging kids in Butterfly education

Butterfly curator Elliott Phillips at the outdoor “Grow Cart” teaching children about butterflies.

Jean Beard has had an extensive career in plant science, animal care and teaching. In addition to her volunteer work at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, most recently she owned and managed Catalpa Ridge Farm (a 75 acre commercial cow and calf operation) where she established conservation areas through the USDA CREP program.  At Green Springs Garden Park in Alexandria, Virginia, she started as a volunteer and was soon hired as a children’s program assistant and part-time gardener before moving to a full-time position as the coordinator of educational programs and interpretive horticulturist. She holds a B.S. in biology from Bridgewater College and an M.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University.

Elliott Phillips holds a B.S. in organismal biology from Christopher Newport University. As an intern at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Elliott worked in the Hemiptera/Lepidoptera section of the Entomology Department, and later returned as a contractor to work on a Membracidae research project. He loves teaching and has lead an entomology-themed after school club at Ashland Elementary School. There he introduced children to a variety of wonderful insects including giant hissing cockroaches! Much like the ones you see at the Smithsonian Insect Zoo. You may remember I wrote about Phillips earlier when he helped arrange a butterfly field trip to the Smithsonian. 

A young man with glasses and red beard smiles at the camera

Daniel Wright

You may have seen my co-curator Daniel Wright, around the Garden before too.  He’s worked on our operations team for several years and wanted to have a chance to engage more with visitors. Daniel has many years of experience working with youth, including several summers as a counselor at Camp Alkulana. There he led at-risk elementary and middle school students on caving, canoeing, climbing, and hiking excursions in the George Washington National Forest. Daniel holds a bachelors of science in integrated science and technology, with a concentration in the environment, from James Madison University.  He is also my social media counterpart, and posts on the Garden’s Facebook page about Butterflies LIVE!

Each of the curators have crafted certain projects for themselves, both behind-the-scenes and around the exhibit. Wright and Phillips have streamlined our data entry and processing, and really advanced the technological proficiency of the team as a whole. Jean Beard and I are amped up on communicating the importance of larval host plants and hope to inspire  guests to become butterfly stewards. Beard also did a lovely job of putting together Butterfly Book Baskets, which contain a blanket to sit on, a butterfly picture book, and some fun, educational toys — including fabulous hand-made puzzles. You can use the Butterfly Book Baskets during on select weekends and Father’s Day Weekend.

All of the butterfly curators and myself hope to see you at the garden soon!


Lauren holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in horticulture with a certificate in sustainable agriculture from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Her central passions are preserving biodiversity and building a sustainable future.

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