Butterflies Take Flight For Garden Lecture

WHEELING — The Ohio County Master Gardeners will present the final 2018 Public Garden Lecture at 7 p.m. Monday at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Educational Center, Oglebay Park.

Heather Tokas, charter and current president of the West Virginia chapter of Butterfly Rescue International, will give the lecture on “Butterflies of West Virginia.” She will cover topics such as monarch updates, attracting butterflies, identifying caterpillars and proven tips for successfully raising caterpillars.

The lecture is open to the public. For more information, call Sharon Morgan, 304-277-5084 or 304-281-4930.

Tokas is the founder of the state’s Monarch Butterfly Day.

She lobbied legislators as an individual to seek recognition for monarch butterflies. After many emails, phone calls and several visits to the state Capitol, she gained seven delegates and five senators as sponsors for a House concurrent resolution. In 2004, the Legislature designated Sept. 12 as the annual West Virginia Monarch Butterfly Day.

Tokas said, “There were no petitions or support from community or groups, just personal passion, fervor and presentation of the need for West Virginia to actively have something in place to conserve the monarch, our state butterfly.”

In 2016, after 40-plus years of volunteer commitment to monarch and butterfly conservation, Tokas was honored in Washington, D.C., and awarded a gold medal for the National Conservation Award by the National Society of Daughters of American Revolution. This award is given when voted upon nationally by the DAR at all state levels for extraordinary conservation achievement.

Tokas, who lives in Wellsburg, is a graduate of Brooke High School and Bethany College.

Her passion for butterflies began as a fourth-grade student at Wellsburg Primary School in 1974 as a result of her brother’s interest in them. “His passion for butterflies eventually caught my attention after he would drag his big sister into the fields,” she said.