With golden shovels in hand, Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium staff ceremoniously broke ground on the Rocky Mountain Gardens and Exploration Center on May 14, 2021 at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. Nearly 200 people gathered to celebrate.
Jen moved to Missoula, MT to return to school and earn a degree in Wildlife Biology. Turns out, she ended up studying wildlife that was smaller than she anticipated — insects. Her work in a research lab studying dung beetles led to involvement in school presentations and other educational programs. Stemming from a desire to combine her passions for natural history, science education and entomology, the idea for the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium was born. Jen returned to school to get a Master’s degree in Museum Exhibit Design and Curriculum Development. Since graduating, she launched the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium and serves as the President of the Board of Directors. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Glenn, black lab Mono, cat Hemi…and a growing array of invertebrate pets.
Development and Community Relations Director
Originally from NJ, Glenn has called Missoula, MT home since 1995. He has worked as a non-profit fundraiser ever since moving to Missoula, having worked with Five Valleys Land Trust and Wilderness Watch, among other positions. In 2009 he helped found the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium and in mid 2016 became the organization’s first Development Director. In addition to fundraising, Glenn makes insect-filled visits on Montana Public Radio’s Pea Green Boat, contributes to our What’s Buzzin’ reports, writes our Bug Bytes podcast, and loves to “talk bugs”. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting, birding …and of course, observing and learning about insects.
Originally from the East Coast, Carolyn studied documentary filmmaking at Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, graduating in 2008. The call of the mountains inspired her move to Colorado shortly thereafter. In Boulder, Colorado for 6 years, Carolyn co-founded Earth Explorers, a STEM education nonprofit that connects student filmmakers with working scientists in their community. Seeking a new challenge, and looking to reconnect with family in Missoula, Carolyn switched gears and joined the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium team to focus on developing and facilitating a wide range of informal learning experiences for kids and bug lovers of all ages. Carolyn has a passion for fostering curiosity and loves answering all of the great questions that come her way. She is currently working towards her Masters in Museum Studies from the Harvard Extension School to further hone her skills as a museum educator.
Lead Animal Keeper
Brenna is a western Washington transplant who moved to Missoula in 2013. Growing up in a rural part of the Pacific Northwest fostered a lifetime love and fascination of the natural world, and led to many outdoor pursuits as an adult. After finishing her stint with the Montana Conservation Corps, Brenna decided to (finally) finish the bachelor’s degree she started nearly ten years prior. She graduated from UM with a Bachelor of Science in biology, with a concentration in organismal biology and ecology. Brenna has been involved with the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium since 2017, and continues to explore her interest in arthropods through ongoing community science programs. When she’s not wrangling bugs, Brenna spends her time working on a myriad of unfinished art projects, cozying up to a good horror flick, or exploring outside with her husband Collin and their absolute nut of a cattle dog, Rocko.
Interpretive Content Developer
Karen grew up along the scenic Clark Fork River just outside of Thompson Falls. In 2004 she moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana, where she received a BA in Sociology and Anthropology. After graduating, she worked in the customer service field for a local non-profit and several family-owned businesses. In the spring of 2014 Karen became a Certified Master Naturalist through the Montana Natural History Center. Although always a lover of the outdoors, she credits this class with igniting her passion for interpreting the natural world. Each year she looks forward to recertifying, eagerly seeking out continuing education and volunteer opportunities. When not researching or writing for her dream job, you’ll find Karen wandering the woods, taking in a panoramic view from a forest service lookout, reading equal parts fiction and non-fiction, or spending time with her husband Gage, their cats Toonces and Wednesday, and a tenacious pug named Napoleon.
At the end of 2020, Briana moved from Seattle to Missoula with her husband, Chris, and her best dog friend, Clementine. She is originally from upstate New York and earned her BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany. Briana’s appreciation of the insect world started when she was a little girl playing with potato bugs in her grandma’s driveway. And there have been many insect pals along the way. She discovered her latest friend in a terrarium she made out of Seattle plants and soil. Several months after moving to Missoula, she noticed a little sow bug hanging out on a fern in the terrarium. Piglet is thriving and Briana is looking for some other sow bug friends for them to socialize with. On her time off, you will find Briana starting yet another crafty project (that she may or may not finish), reading a book in her hammock, exploring her new community with Chris and Clem, watching a Marvel movie for the 25th time, or planning her next road trip adventure.
Bio coming soon.
Board of Directors
Marcy Allen grew up in Vermont and moved to Missoula in 1991. Marcy owns a consulting business, providing businesses and non profits with strategic assistance with growth and expansion. She previously worked for many years at the Executive Director of an economic development organization focused on helping businesses obtain funding and market research for growth and expansion. Her love for insects started in her youth collecting monarch caterpillars and watching them transform into beautiful butterflies. She spends her free time skiing, biking, and recreating with her partner and their two sons.
Lisa Verlanic Fowler
Anaconda native Lisa Verlanic has been teaching T-1 and 1st grade at Florence Carlton School since 1994. Lisa was inspired by friend and colleague Byron Weber to protect the environment and to share our natural world with her students. As a participant in the ECOS program at the University of Montana, Lisa was instrumental in the Florence Carlton Outdoor Classroom’s certification as a Schoolyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The children in Ms. Verlanic’s room can watch the intricate movements of Rosie the tarantula and love to feed crickets to Lizzy, the bearded dragon. In addition to serving on various committees at school, Lisa enjoys spending time with family and friends, practicing yoga and traveling.
Megan Robson is originally from Billings, Montana but found her way to Missoula when she enrolled at the University of Montana. Growing up, her grandparents instilled a love for the outdoors through their passion for bird watching and as a parent, she hoped to find a similar shared interest with her son, Luca. Despite her persistent (and admittedly unjustified) fear of spiders, Luca fell in love with Polly, a bird-eating tarantula, and consequently Megan fell in love with the Insectarium. In her free time, Megan camps and skiis, and now takes photos of weird bugs to send to Glenn and Jen.
A 6th generation Montanan from Plains, Morgan attended the University of Montana and received a B.A. in Elementary Education. She currently works in Marketing as the Digital Media Coordinator for Missoula Federal Credit Union. Growing up outdoors, Morgan’s love for the ‘Little Things That Run the World’ began early in the vegetable garden playing with wolf spiders. Her mother fostered a passion for learning about insects, encouraging her to observe, identify, and research first before passing judgment on the smallest of creatures. Fascinated by arachnids, she enjoys studying local populations around her home in Lolo and always looks forward to visits with Polly, Rosie, and the other tarantulas at the Insectarium.
Having grown up surrounded by the beautiful lakes and seasons of Wisconsin, Kathryn developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors. In the summers, she cultivated a love for insects while gardening with her neighbor, a professor emeritus of entomology, who also shared his antique collection of butterflies. Kathryn graduated from Colorado College with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She has worked in data and analytics for a risk, retirement and health consulting firm since 2012. After moving to Missoula in 2017, she became involved with the MBHI as a volunteer. She is dedicated to sharing the essential role that insects play in our natural world. If she’s not out hiking with her giant pup Jenkins, she’s probably taking a new art class, learning how to fly fish, or spending time with family and friends.
Born and raised in central Illinois; since childhood Mike has always been interested in the outdoors. After graduating from high school he went on to attend Eastern Illinois University receiving his BS in Zoology and MS in Fish & Wildlife Management. Mike worked for the Illinois Department of Conservation for 12 years starting as a district wildlife manager and spending 10 years as regional fish and wildlife administrator.
His interest in wildlife and natural resources led him to a field position with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He spent 14 years with RMEF holding senior level positions as National Director of Field Operations and Southwest Regional Vice President. Mike’s love of wildlife allowed him to serve as Executive Director of ZooMontana and Botanical Gardens in Billings, MT and CEO of the Tucson Zoological Society in Tucson, AZ. and Tribal Deputy Manager of the National Bison Range in Moeise, MT.
After 30 years of combined natural resource management and senior level nonprofit experience, Mike is retired and enjoys his grandchildren and his hobby of collecting Hostas!
Douglas J. Emlen
Douglas J. Emlen studied at Cornell University (B.A. 1989), Princeton University (Ph. D. 1994), and Duke University (Postdoctoral Research Fellow 1994-1997), before joining the faculty at the University of Montana where he is a full professor and recently served as director of Ecology and Evolution, one of UM’s three “Programs of National Distinction.” He is the first scholar from any Montana institution to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016) and was the first Montanan to receive the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (2002). In 2014 he was awarded UM’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2015 the Carnegie/CASE Professor of the Year Award for the State of Montana. His book Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle (Henry Holt, 2014) won the Phi Beta Kappa science book of the year award in 2015, and his textbook Evolution: Making Sense of Life (co-authored with award-winning journalist Carl Zimmer, Macmillan Publishing, 3rd edition 2020), is presently adopted by more than 250 universities and colleges. His research has been featured in outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Science Friday, and YouTube’s SciShow and MeatEater. He recently starred in documentaries about his work for the BBC (Nature’s Wildest Weapons) and NOVA (Extreme Animal Weapons), and his first narrative nonfiction book for middle school readers (Beetle Battles: One Scientist’s Journey of Adventure and Discovery, Roaring Brook/Macmillan) appeared on shelves in December 2020.
In Honor of Deceased Board Member
It is with great sadness that we inform you that our dear friend, Byron Weber, passed away on August 27, 2010.