Panhandle Butterfly House & Nature Center start fundraising

Ramon Rios

MILTON — The recently renamed Panhandle Butterfly House & Nature Center is moving forward with plans to develop a 10-acre parcel at 4966 Henry St. into their new home.

Jenny Weber is president of the nonprofit and is excited about getting started on the project.

“We have almost enough money in the bank to buy the property,” Weber said.

They will still have to raise additional funds to build the botanical gardens, walking and interpretive bird trails, a pavilion and renovate the house to fit their needs. Future plans are to host a farmers market on the site.

“We are in discussions with our parent organization, the Keep Santa Rosa Beautiful board of directors, to see if they can help us out with the purchase,” Weber said. “The county had offered to move us to a new location.”

Weber said hat funding will probably not happen because the BOCC and the TDC are trying to cut expenses.

Weber and her group have decided to push forward with fundraising. The first event planned takes place at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Imogene Theater.

Weber called the event the “Butterfly Fiesta! At the Imogene!” Tickets are available through Admission is $45 for one person and $75 per couple.

The event will feature a Mexican theme since the Monarch butterfly is wintering in Mexico right now. A margarita taste contest will be held to see who mixes the best margarita.

El Paso Mexican Grill in Milton is giving in-kind donations by providing a taco bar. Another in-kind donation is from Avalon Brewing, who will have their Cream Ale available at the event.

The fundraiser will have an presentation on what the Panhandle Butterfly House & Nature Center does and have an update on the new facility.

Donors have already started giving money.

Weber said Salinas Technologies Inc. gave $5,000 and the Milton Garden Club gave them $1,000. Boomerangs Pizza held a mini-fundraiser and donated $1,100.

The Florida Trail Association has offered to make a walking trail for the new Butterfly House. In addition, the Audubon Society has offered to build an interpretive bird trail through the grounds.

Weber does not have a timetable for the project, but should have one soon. They are talking with a construction company that can provide engineering, permitting and construction services.

“We are going to have a Monarch Madness Festival somewhere, sometime in October,” Weber said.