Urbanization in Miami—Dade County has modified large tracts of suitable habitats into smaller patches and increased distance between habitats. As a result, the endangered Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus (Schaus Swallowtail), which historically inhabited subtropical dry forests in south Florida and the Florida Keys, is now restricted to several islands in the Florida Keys and its numbers are precipitously declining. Here we report on a project that combined a remote in situ restoration project with a communityoutreach component that brought the restoration effort to local urban elementary schools. The Schaus Swallowtail Habitat Enhancement Project in Biscayne National Park utilized volunteers to remove exotic plants and plant over 3000 Amryis elemifera (Sea Torchwood) and Zanthoxylum fagara (Wild Lime), which are host plants for the Schaus Swallowtail. After planting and initial establishment, we monitored growth and survival of host plants. We developed the Schaus and Coastal Hardwood Hammock curriculum unit in partnership with teachers and university faculty, and implemented it at 8 locations including 5 public schools in an ex situ outreach and education program. Lesson plans aimed to: (1) inform students about the Schaus Swallowtail, (2) increase the number and size of native-plant butterfly gardens at schools and homes, and (3) thwart “extinction of experience” in nature for school children. Teachers implement applied activities modeled on the habitat enhancement project in Biscayne National Park in the classroom and on school grounds, and used them to illustrate the butterfly life cycle, species' niche requirements, biodiversity, and restoration and conservation of south Florida habitats. Ongoing engagement with school gardens through maintenance and project-based assignments can help students achieve academically and become responsible environmental stewards.
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Vol. 16 • No. sp10