Nancy and I remember very little about eighth grade science at Lincoln School when we were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties. We do recall an assignment that required each student to collect and mount butterflies.
This was 1945, long before people were concerned about protecting endangered animals and insects. Matter of fact, we were enthusiastic about the project and planned to gather as many different species of the colorful insect as possible.
I began the assignment by rounding out a wire coat hanger and taping it to an old broom handle I had shortened. Then I took a large piece of gauze, sewed the sides and stitched it to the coat hanger. I was now prepared to begin the hunt.
The Battlefield, with it’s large open fields of grass and wild flowers, was the perfect place to begin, and in a few days I collected nine different species to mount and display.
Since eighth grade seventy years ago, I have learned that many others across the country had the same assignment in high school or junior high.
There are now more than two dozen threatened, endangered and extinct butterflies in the United States. Without a doubt, insensitive teachers and eager competitive students, unfortunately, contributed to that reality.