Spring has arrived in Florida. Now is great time to learn about conserving native pollinators and the plants that support them.
A book written by the late Rebecca Jordi has been helping Floridians of all ages do just that.
“Zoe’s Mission” takes readers on a journey with Zoe, a zebra longwing butterfly. Colorful illustrations by Joanne Roach depict the life cycle of this native butterfly species, which is also the state butterfly.
Zoe’s Mission is available for order through the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore website.
“The book continues Becky’s legacy and the impact she had on the community,” said Taylor Clem, director of UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County, where Jordi became director in 2010. “It also teaches some of the principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping, such as choosing plants that attract pollinators like the zebra longwing, which depends on the native passionflower to reproduce.”
Jordi passed away in 2020, the same year the book first went into print.
“At first, the book was just available through our office, but Becky would have wanted it to expand. It’s great that more people can access it now,” Taylor said.
Doug Jordi, Rebecca’s husband, said she first got the idea for Zoe’s Mission while traveling home one day after a visit to the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.
“Inspiration just struck,” Doug said. “Becky was an ideas person, and she was good at working with people who could help make that idea into something real.”
One of those people was the book’s illustrator, Joanne Roach, a longtime volunteer with the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, which Rebecca coordinated in Nassau County. When Rebecca first approached Joanne about the project, Joanne didn’t think she was right for the job.
“I said, ‘I’m good at arts and crafts and making the signs for our plant sales, but I’m not an artist,” Joanne said.
But Jordi convinced Joanne to sketch a few butterflies, just to see.
“Becky took one look and said, ‘perfect’,” Joanne said.
It took Joanne 10 months to complete the illustrations for Zoe’s Mission. Working in colored pencil, she sketched pictures to complement each page of Rebecca’s story.
“It was a labor of love for both of us and very humbling. I never could have done it without Becky,” Joanne said.
Joanne points out that that the name Zoe comes from the Greek word for “life.” The name is meaningful in more than one way.
“Besides being about the life of a butterfly, the book embodies Becky’s life mission to teach people how to conserve our environment,” Joanne said.
Proceeds from the book will continue Rebecca Jordi’s work by supporting horticulture outreach programs at UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County.
To learn more about supporting horticulture programming from UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County, please contact Taylor Clem, firstname.lastname@example.org.