How has COVID-19 impacted me, my work, and all of us? Where to start.

We’re all dealing with the impacts on a personal level. Social distancing. Crashing markets. Job concerns in many segments of our community. Bare shelves at the grocery stores. And the looming threat of becoming sick and/or seeing loved ones become sick. Our lives have changed pretty significantly in such a short span of time.

But in terms of work, it’s added some significant challenges to an already challenging time.

I’m the Development Director and one of the founders of the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium. After needing to close our beloved Missoula Insectarium last summer due to a landlord who was unwilling to renew our lease, we’ve worked hard over the past 6 months to transform our education programs to a more mobile mode of operation as we work to build a new, larger facility featuring a tropical butterfly house.

Thanks to our hardworking staff and some great community partners, we really started to hit our stride with our new programs. However, as of last Friday, all of our school field trips and in-person education programs have been canceled for the foreseeable future, essentially putting a stop to the exciting progress we’ve made with our program transformations.

But facing new challenges also presents new opportunities. It’s definitely time to get creative. This week we’ve been exploring options to bring our field trips to students and classes on-line. We’ve directed followers to our Bug Bytes podcast on Montana Public Radio. And we’ve also held our first Facebook Live event – a 20-minute introduction to tarantulas that’s been viewed more than 2,100 times in the last 30 hours.

We still have a lot to figure out and face challenges in regard to lost income from paid programs and continuing to move forward with a capital campaign during what appears will be a significant economic downturn. But we’ll continue to be creative in meeting our mission, bringing unique education opportunities to interested learners of all ages, and realizing our long-term dreams.

But right now, this is bigger than me, and it’s bigger than the Butterfly House’s mission. It’s the time to think about others, our community, and our country. And if it means making some short-term sacrifices and needing to be creative, then so be it. Because as upsetting and disruptive as all of this is, it’s important to remember that this is a moment in time that will pass. It does not change our dreams for the future. Because what inspired our lives a few weeks ago will be the same things that inspire our lives tomorrow. 

If you would like to share your story on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your life in our "Story of You" series, please send your story and photo to Stories should be submitted in Word format and be no longer than 500 words.