Certified Green Guide Helen Cooper has always loved butterflies. She is a native to Wakulla County and grew up chasing butterflies near her home in downtown Crawfordville when children could run in the street by the Courthouse because the only traffic was on the weekend when folks drove south to the coast. She is a descendant of the Roberts and Tuckers on her daddy’s side, and kin to the Taffs and Carraways through her mama. If you live around these parts, you will know the generations of these longstanding families. If not, a drive through the county will quickly acquaint you with these names familiar on street signs, assorted businesses and buildings.
Helen became a Green Guide through the Tallahassee Community College Ecotourism Institute because she is drawn to the outdoors and the discovery of details specific to area flora and fauna. She especially enjoys nature photography. It was at one St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Monarch Butterfly Festival several years ago when Helen went to photograph butterflies, that she became enamored with the beauty of the monarch. Soon afterwards, she became a volunteer for the Monarch Project where she learned to count, capture and tag monarchs travelling on their epic 2,000 mile journey from the northern American boundary to the mountains of central Mexico. Millions of monarchs pass through the river corridors and along Florida’s Gulf coast to get to a certain 70 square mile forest located in central Mexico. It takes four generations for the butterflies to finally reach their destination where they spend their winter hibernation in the very same trees each and every year. This incredible migratory phenomenon happens here in our area beginning about the third week of October and lasts until mid-November.
“When you help others, you help yourself,” says Helen insightfully.