VAIL, Colorado - Thousands of butterflies will be taking to the air soon at America's highest botanical garden.
Five hundred and fifty Eagle County third-graders will participate in the annual Butterfly Launch at noon Thursday at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail's Ford Park. The launch is followed by butterfly games in the Park and a visit from the Denver's Butterfly Pavilion.
"We are delighted once again to host this incredible event," said Nicola Ripley, the gardens' director. "We love the combination of a great learning experience with a whole lot of fun."
The students - from 26 classrooms in both public and private schools throughout Eagle County - were supplied this spring with kits including a viewing net, caterpillars and food. Over the course of about a month, they've raised the caterpillars, watching as each pupated and turned into a Painted Lady Butterfly ready to take flight.
This year's event is underwritten by United Way of the Eagle River Valley and the Holy Cross Energy Round-Up Foundation.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, at 8,250 feet above sea level, is the highest botanical garden in the United States - and perhaps the world - providing free access to an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. Conserving plants of the American West, its mission is to inspire passion for plants in high-altitude communities through beautification, conservation, education and research programs. The nonprofit organization's operations and programs are funded entirely through the generosity of donors.
For the complete events schedule or more information about the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, call 970-476-0103 or visit www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org.