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History of Backyard Butterflies

Backyard Butterflies was co-founded by LM Carlson and John Jarvis in 2019 as a nonprofit corporation in the state of North Carolina. LM and John began creating their backyard butterfly habitat as a hobby in 2012 when they moved into an old brick house in Hillsborough. Together they had a very basic understanding of the symbiosis between plants, butterflies, and other insects. When they discovered Monarch caterpillars on a milkweed that had been given to them it was the catalyst that changed everything.

Through their volunteer experiences at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, The Museum of Life and Science, and the Carolina Butterfly Society, in conjunction with self-learning and observation, they developed their skills and knowledge about butterflies and plants. They also became aware of the interest within their community to provide butterfly education, community outreach, and a resource to purchase uncommon to rare host and nectar plants.

Backyard Butterflies as a Nonprofit Organization

We describe Backyard Butterflies as a small, hybrid public charity nonprofit organization. We pursue an educational, charitable, and social mission like many nonprofits. However, instead of seeking traditional sources of funding in the form of grants, donations, and other types of traditional nonprofit fundraising, we primarily fund our operations through commercial revenue generated by selling common to rare host and nectar plants. Selling plants also serves to fulfill our mission of helping members of our community create backyard butterfly habitats or gardens.

Mission Statement

To provide education, engage our community, and help members of our community create backyard butterfly habitats.


We appreciate your interest in serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Backyard Butterflies. Please read through all of the information provided as it will help you understand the duties and time commitments of this leadership position.

We seek a broad-based Board of scientists, professionals, educators, and most importantly butterfly and plant enthusiasts who want to support species of Lepidoptera in the comfort of their backyards. We also seek a diverse Board as defined by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, disability, appearance, location, and professional level. We could not exist without the support of all members of our greater communities and we wish to reflect that in our organizational leadership.

The Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring that our organization realizes its potential and fulfills its obligations. The Board of Directors is a governing body with full authority and responsibility to develop policies and regulations for the operation of the organization to monitor our organization’s financial health, programs and overall performance. It also provides the Executive Director with the resources to meet the needs of those the organization serves.

Basic Function

The Board of Directors shapes our organization, defines its goals, plans its future, nurtures, strengthens, protect and leads it. The Board is responsible for ensuring the performance of our organization. It develops clearly stated expectations through written policies, delegating responsibility for, and authority over, the achievement of stated objectives, and monitoring compliance with written policies.

The Board of Directors does not make decisions about, become involved with, or take part in the day-to-day activities or decisions regarding the operation of our organization. The Board’s sole official connection to the operations of our organization is through the Executive Director.

Full Board's Duties & Responsibilities

Meet a Duty of Care

• Establish, refine and clarify major policies of our organization 

• Establish a partnership with the Executive Director

• Secure adequate funding for our organization

• Provide leadership and direction

Meet a Duty of Obedience

• Ensure compliance with our organization’s mission

• Meet all tax requirements

• Follow all laws and codes affecting nonprofit organizations

• Follow the organization’s governing documents and bylaws

Meet a Duty of Loyalty

• Make decisions in the best interest of our organization

• Disclose and avoid conflicts of interest

• Make sure our organization’s activities are advancing our mission

Additional Duties & Responsibilities

• Hires the Executive Director and other staff; determines their compensation

Individual Board Member's Duties & Responsibilities

• Attend the annual board meeting 

• Be or become knowledgeable about our organization

• Represent the organization to individuals, the public and to other businesses and organizations

• Respond to emails and other forms of communication in a timely manner

• Recruit potential board members

• Willingness to work cooperatively with all members of the organization and our communities

• Commit to providing the time and energy for a 2 year term

• Optional attendance or assistance at organizational events or activities

Estimated Time Requirements

• 2 hours for annual board meeting

• 2 hours or less to read documents in preparation for the annual board meeting


• 1-2 hours per month during the butterfly season communicating with the Executive Director and other Board Members 

• Variable hours of attendance or assistance at organizational events, fulfilling board duties and responsibilities 



• Must be age 18 or older

• Must have ability or access to video conferencing and email

• Must disclose any conflicts of interest 


• Experience with butterfly and/or pollinator gardening 

• Experience with hand raising caterpillars 

• Leadership experience with a nonprofit or previous volunteer experience with a nonprofit

• Resident of North Carolina