Rare Plant Heroes

Herbarium Specimen
Herbarium Specimen

Editor’s Note: Michelle A. Butler received NANPA’s 2015 Janie Moore Greene Grant.  At that time, she was a student completing her Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She was then working on a photo-documentary thesis project to raise awareness about the condition of birds in the Americas. It highlights the habitats needed for nesting, wintering and migration and calls for conservation efforts that citizens can make to help protect these essential components to our ecosystem.

Story & photos by Michelle A. Butler

Everybody needs a hero, right? Obviously Tinseltown has our number –combining superheroes into one big action film like Avengers: End Game, which came out earlier this summer.  But nature needs heroes too, and many of those heroes are represented at NANPA, making a difference in the promotion, conservation and preservation of the natural world. 

Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert

Since I received the Janie Moore Greene Grant in 2015, I’ve graduated with my Master of Fine Art degree and become a hero for the endangered plants of the desert regions of the western USA.  More specifically, I partner with universities and non-profit organizations to publicize research that seeks to conserve and protect some of the most vulnerable cacti, wildflowers and unique desert plant species.  Through photo and video, we educate the public about projects such as what characteristics of plants may help them face the effects of climate change? or how does biodiversity in the Amargosa River Basin make California’s wild places more robust and beautiful?  A most recent project encourages Citizen Scientists to participate in rare plant work within the Tonto National Forest, the largest swath of national forest in the state of Arizona and the fifth largest in the USA. 

Yellow Bloom
Yellow Bloom

I look forward to continuing this work, partnering with “Rare Plant Heroes” and publicizing their work through visual storytelling.  The professionals at NANPA have been a great resource for me through contacts, blogs, and webcast learning opportunities!

Are you a college student studying photography? Have an idea for your own grant-worthy project? Applications for this year’s Philip Hyde Conservation Grant and the Janie Moore Green Scholarship Grant are accepted through October 31, 2019. Click on the links for all the details and the application forms. These grant programs are managed by the NANPA Foundation.