Who We Are
PlantButterflies.org began as an informational website and partnering initiative to encourage butterfly-friendly gardening. As part of a growing coalition of concerned gardeners, environmental stewards, garden centers and native plant growers, we are taking small and large steps to preserve native vegetation in backyards, public parks, historic gardens, and along highways.
One of our key partners, the Monarch Sister Schools Program (MSSP), engages students, teachers and PTA’s from participating schools in a cross-border alliance to create Monarch way-stations. These native garden habitats help sustain the Monarchs in their threatened migration from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada. PlantButterflies.org and MSSP share the widespread concern that the Monarch’s population decline is a bellwether of environmental stress on other vulnerable pollinators.
No prior experience is necessary to create an eco-friendly natural space. However, credentials being a rite of passage in our Nation’s Capital, I’ll share a bit about my random path into native gardening. I’ve lived over 50 years in the DC area and engaged in a series of professional adventures. Volunteering to parlay alliances in support of eco-gardening was likely rooted in my day job (senior director of strategic partnerships for American University’s Communication School).
Prior to my role at AU, I worked in media (behind the scenes at NBC Nightly News & ABC World News); in politics (press advance for The White House and Democratic campaigns); with for-profits (leading education programs for Discovery Communications and the National Cable Telecommunications Association); and not-for-profits (U.S. Green Building Council consultant, Big Sister’s regional director, Institute for Integrative Nutrition coach and certified weed warrior for Montgomery County Parks and the C&O Canal). Only the latter gives me a scintilla of ‘dirt cred’ as an eco-gardener, but there has always been a career through-line of wanting to contribute to positive change.
Monarch Sister Schools Program
William Dent, also a native Washingtonian, serves as Executive Director of Natural Partners and leads its major programs, including the Monarch Sister Schools Program (MSSP) for schools in the United States and Mexico. MSSP is an initiative to involve school children across North America in the protection and restoration of the habitat of the Monarch butterfly, including its threatened winter forest habitat in the highlands of central Mexico and its disappearing milkweed habitat along its migratory "flyway" from Mexico to Canada.
Mr. Dent has served as project manager for the Inter-American Development Bank and put together innovative projects in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras and Costa Rica. He founded and was CEO of CD-ROM International, pioneering the introduction of U.S. and European bibliographic databases (e.g., Medline) and related IT services at some 200 institutions throughout Brazil. Prior to that, as a consultant to BNDES, the National Development Bank of Brazil, he helped develop SEBRAE, Brazil's Small Business Administration which served as a ‘business school' for aspiring entrepreneurs. Early in his career he served in the Peace Corps in Chile. William Dent earned his M.A. in Education and MBA in Finance from the Univ. of Chicago; his B.A. in History from Univ. of Maryland.
Dr. Christopher F. Puttock
Dr. Christopher F. Puttock
Dr. Christopher Puttock is an environmental scientist and botanist with more than 35 years’ experience in environmental conservation. In addition to his role as Executive Director of Chesapeake Natives, he is a research associate in the Botany Department at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Puttock has led many outreach programs for greater community awareness of the consequences of human interruption to the natural environment.
As a conservation scientist, he is convinced that without the effective implementation of outreach strategies to coordinate sustainable use of natural resources and to preserve the world’s ecosystems, the welfare of humanity and all the Earth’s biodiversity will continue to suffer irreparable degradation. Through his work with Chesapeake Natives, he preserves, propagates and promotes plants native to the Chesapeake watershed. Native seeds are gathered and grown by volunteers on the grounds and in the historic greenhouses of Mt. Airy Mansion in Rosaryville State Park, MD.
Dr. Puttock has been President of the Botanical Society of Washington, and a board member of the Maryland Native Plant Society and the Hawaii Conservation Alliance Foundation. Prior to that, he lived in Australia for 34 years as a botanist and writer for Flora of Australia. He was born in England. Dr. Puttock holds a doctorate in plant systematics and a diploma in science education, with many years of fieldwork and research experience in biodiversity, staff supervision and educational outreach.