As published in The Monitor, February 14, 2015
January 1, 2015, Chris Tenney started his Big Year for butterflies. This personal quest to locate and identify as many species as possible in 365 days is not an activity for the unprepared or faint-hearted; rather, it requires focus and determination if numbers are to be tracked and racked up, reported and defended, in what often becomes a contest among naturalists in search of bragging rights and field status.
This is not Tenney’s kind of quest.
Lanky and soft-spoken, rumbled and weathered, deliberate and unassuming, he does not appear to be leading a charge, marching across America in pursuit of a goal; but don’t let this fool you. Tenney is a man on a mission, and butterflies may just a pretense for his first significant trip alone.
Two years ago, January, marked the loss of Tenney’s true love, May, his wife of forty years. Together, they criss-crossed the country, discovering special places and creating memories that he cherishes. Recollections of their experiences in places like Missoula, Montana, and Zion National Park, are guiding his steps, today, as he seeks to honor her time here, as well as her passing.
Talking with Tenney, it soon becomes clear his Big Year is less about setting a record than it is about creating a present that simultaneously celebrates their bond and releases him to complete the rest of his journey in this new form, on his own. With this in mind, staff at the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas, eagerly anticipated his arrival, which occurred befittingly on the first day in which the sun broke through the blanket of winter clouds.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2014
‘Lady in Purple’ Takes the Grande Prix in North American Butterfly Photo Contest
(Mission, TX) – Jonathan McElvery, of Massachusetts, won the Grande Prix title and $500 prize in the North American Butterfly Photo Contest with his portrait of a Painted Lady. This prestigious contest is part of the annual Texas Butterfly Festival, which accepts submissions from anywhere in the world, so long as the image captured is that of a free-flying species that may be found in North America. Entry fees for the contest support the environmental conservation and education efforts of the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas.
(Mission, TX) – Did you know that one of every three bites of food you eat is produced by a pollinator? Members of the RGV Chapter of the Texas Chefs’ Association do! That is why they celebrate the butterflies, birds and bees at the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival.
For the second straight year, these culinary artists will prepare the freshest and most flavorful foods South Texas has to offer for visitors from all over the world. Under the direction of chapter president, Santiago “Jimmy” de la Cruz, many of the outstanding and rising stars on the local restaurant scene will enjoy this opportunity to shine.
“I love to eat, play and create,” explains Chef de la Cruz, “And I get great personal satisfaction when people enjoy eating what I’ve created for them. The people who come to the festival appreciate the regional twist we put on familiar tastes, as well as the opportunity to experience exotic foods—the things they may not be introduced to at home.”
Joining de la Cruz is the Valley’s only Certified Executive Chef, Dustin Stair, Culinary Services Director with Sunshine Retirement at The Gardens of Brookridge. A former instructor at the International Culinary Institute, Stair says the key to great food is passion.
“Many people can cook with art, skill and precision,” asserts Stair, “but passion is the secret ingredient; the one that elevates a dish or a meal, and makes it most memorable. The festival participants get that. They have their own passion, for butterflies!”
(Mission, TX) – Author Sharman Apt Russell, keynote speaker for the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, has written on a variety of themes, from The Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers, to Hunger: An Unnatural History. She’s also explored pantheism, American archeology, the myth of the Cowboy and citizen science, among other topics, in her storied career as a creative non-fiction writer.
What do all of these themes have in common?
“I am drawn to subjects that interest me and fuel me,” explains Russell, “Things that give me energy, and most of these revolve around my appreciation for the natural world. I find climate change, bioregionalism, environmental activism and conservation to be at the heart of what motivates me, and the advantage I have as a generalist, concerned with these issues, is that I am not a scientist; I can be interdisciplinary and approach these subjects wholly, through history, psychology, art and anthropology.”
(Mission, TX) – You're invited to experience the splendor of migration at the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival! Hosted by the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, the nation’s premier butterflying event brings people from all around the world to the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy the unique volume and variety of wild butterflies that may only be found, here. This 4-day festival features a FREE Community Day, Saturday, November 1, as well as three days of paid excursions, educational sessions and expert-guided trips to private gardens and renowned public places, including hot spots and hard-to-find places familiar to local butterfly enthusiasts.
Photographing Butterflies, Birds and Bugs, a class for those who wish to take better pictures of small insects and birds, whether stationary or on the fly, will be offered Sunday, November 2. Luciano Guerra, a life-long Valley resident and award-winning photographer will be your instructor for this course.