Spooky Seas Corporate & Event Sponsorships Fish family in exhibit swimming stingray Butterfly pollinating a flower Flower with dew drops on it
Spooky Seas Corporate & Event Sponsorships Fish family in exhibit swimming stingray Butterfly pollinating a flower Flower with dew drops on it

Meet Our Team

The Butterfly House & Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your admissions and donations help support our mission of learning, healing, and celebrating nature’s beauty with tropical butterflies and marine life. Thank you!

MEET AUDREY

Chief Executive Officer

Audrey grew up with a passion for wildlife and nature, spending her summers exploring state parks and fossil sites with her father in Nebraska. She pursued her interest in the environment and conservation by earning degrees in Biology and Sociology at Augustana College and working as a keeper at the Great Plains Zoo caring for the monkeys, tigers, bears, and rhinos.

Audrey ventured out to Washington State University to earn a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Education, studying the social dynamics of the conflict between ranchers and wolf conservationists in the region. Nevertheless, Sioux Falls called her back, where she worked as the Education Coordinator at the Sertoma Butterfly House for several years before becoming the CEO of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in 2011. Audrey loves going to work every day and sharing her passion for nature and education with the community. She says, “I am so fortunate to have found my dream job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!”

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MEET ABBIE

Director of Operations

Abbie grew up with a passion for cooking and baking. After graduating high school, she decided to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management with a minor in Business at South Dakota State University. With her degree, she had the hope of opening her own restaurant one day. After finishing her freshman year of college, she started working in the gift shop at the Butterfly House & Aquarium. While working in the gift shop part time, she discovered a new-found interest in animals and the environment. After finishing her degree at SDSU, she started working full time in the gift shop where she helped with admissions, guest services, and merchandise ordering.

In 2014, Abbie became the Director of Operations. She loves finding merchandise that is fun and educational for guests of all ages. She assures there is something for everyone in the gift shop! One of her favorite things about her job is seeing young children's reactions when they visit. "I love seeing our young guests' excitement when they come to see the tropical butterflies and marine life for the first time. It's even more fun seeing them take a piece of the Butterfly House & Aquarium home with them!"

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MEET JEN

Director of Education

Jen lived on a farm as a child and could often be found exploring the farm grounds looking for fossils, caterpillars, or local wildlife. As she entered high school, her fondness for the outdoors was fostered by several summers of attending conservation camp in the Black Hills. After high school, she spent time traveling and exploring the world before moving back to South Dakota to be closer to family. Jen attended USD in Vermillion and earned a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Earth Science.

Before becoming the Director of Education, she was a member of the Butterfly House for several years. Jen could frequently be found bringing her, now eight-year-old, daughter in for a visit with the fish and butterflies. She says, “My daughter thinks I have the best job ever getting to work with stingrays and tropical butterflies; she loves to come visit me at work. I love that I have an opportunity to make an impact on how children view nature and its fascinating creatures, along with impacting my own child!”

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MEET GRANT

Director of Husbandry

Grant's love of fishes started back when he was about five years old and inherited his mother’s 2-gallon fish bowl.  He bought his first black goldfish and was hooked. He moved from goldfish to guppies, and when he was 13 years old he visited the Seattle Aquarium with his grandmother.  This is where he found his calling.  He wanted to become a marine biologist and work with sharks.

Throughout his career, Grant has worked with corals, jellyfish, sharks, and more at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and Des Moines Zoo.  To be closer to home, Grant moved his family back to Sioux Falls.  In 2010, he helped start the Aquarium portion of the Butterfly House & Aquarium through the donations of fellow fish hobbyists in the community.  Grant is happiest when he is scuba diving, so he takes every opportunity to go diving in the world’s coral reef ecosystems.

MEET ARIEL

Aquarist

Ariel was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has always had a love for animals and the passion for conserving marine life. These interests pushed her to complete two Bachelor of Science degrees in Marine Science and Biology from East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains. Ariel gained experience in the aquarist field by being an aquarium hobbyist, getting involved in college clubs, working at local pet stores, and completing an internship at the South Carolina Aquarium. It was there that she fell in love with the aquarist field, and when she decided it was her dream job!

Having such a strong drive to become an aquarist, her dream job called her to Sioux Falls. Even though she is so new to the city, she has fallen in love with its charm! She made the big move with her boyfriend Bryan and her dog Ares. She says, "I am so happy to have this opportunity and have a job I am so passionate about. I love the fact that I am able to push the limits and learn something new everyday here, as well as share new experiences with our guests!"

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MEET BECCA

Biologist

Becca grew up in Renner, SD, and enjoyed spending as much time in nature as she could. She has always known she wanted to work with animals and nature in some way, and considered pursuing Marine Biology throughout her childhood.  Once she got to South Dakota State University, she became fascinated with animal behavior and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology.  After working in Guest Services for a few months, she applied for an opening Biologist position at the Butterfly House & Aquarium.

Becca feels blessed to work for such a powerful organization and loves going to work every day. She enjoys being part of such a unique escape for the community (especially in the winter!), and the educational and healing aspect of the Butterfly House & Aquarium is so inspiring to her. She says, "I've always loved the power of nature. Not only do I get to share that with our community, but I can experience the wonder and amazement in a child's eyes when they pet a stingray for the first time, or when a butterfly flutters right by them. It's incredible!"

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MEET ASHLEY

Volunteer Coordinator

Ashley grew up on a small dairy farm in central Minnesota, fostering a passion for animals and the environment. She pursued that passion earning a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2014. In addition to studying biology, Ashley discovered an interest for volunteer work. She even coordinated and participated in national and local builds with Habitat for Humanity. After graduating from Gustavus, she worked on a wildlife refuge in Oklahoma and at the Great Plains Zoo as an Education Specialist.

Ashley began volunteering at the Butterfly House & Aquarium shortly after moving to Sioux Falls in 2014. She is very excited to take on the role of Volunteer Coordinator, which is a combination of her passion for conservation and volunteer work. In addition to Ashley's love for animals and the environment, she enjoys scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, upcycling, juggling and swing dancing.

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MEET LINDSEY

Marketing Coordinator

Lindsey grew up in Brandon, SD, and enjoys baking, cooking and spending time with friends and family. She went to Minnesota State University - Mankato where she studied Recreation, Parks & Leisure Services - Leisure Planning & Management. She was involved in the Campus Activities Board where she discovered her love of event planning and marketing. She planned a wide variety of events, from Homecoming to major concerts and speakers. She has spent her career in both the private and non-profit sectors doing marketing, events and fundraising for a variety of industries and organizations.

Lindsey says "I am excited to join the Butterfly House & Aquarium and to be a part of the amazing growth this organization is having and will continue to have into the future. The Butterfly House & Aquarium is a great treasure for the Sioux Empire and I look forward to helping it continue to grow and reminding people that it is here and a great year-round indoor activity for the whole family."

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MEET CORTNEY

Educator

Cortney experienced a highly nomadic childhood but her years in the Midwest proved to be the most influential.  After serving four years in the Navy, she returned to the Midwest to pursue a degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.  She made the most of her summer breaks by working with the National Park Service at various locations including Yellowstone National Park.

Cortney is very excited to be a part of such an inspirational organization.  She loves working in a vibrant environment where she can share her passion for nature and discover more about the permanent residents.  Outside of loving her métier, Cortney enjoys reading, kayaking, traveling, snowboarding, archery, and spending lots of time with her husband, family, and friends.  

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MEET ZACH

Aquarist

Zach grew up in the small town of Chandler, MN. His passion for animals was influenced through his experiences with zoos, aquariums, and personal pets. Zach attended Augustana University where he earned degrees in elementary and special education. Zach was also a member of the Augustana men’s basketball team.

During college Zach spent his summers working at the Butterfly House and Aquarium as an education assistant and aquarist intern. However, it was his love for marine life that called Zach into a career as an aquarist. Zach is passionate about coral reef ecosystems and their conservation. “I am blessed that I get to work with such amazing animals every single day. I feel it is my calling to be a good steward of the earth and to use the opportunities that God has given me to educate others about the importance of his creation.” Zach and his wife live in Harrisburg South Dakota and enjoy any opportunity they get to travel to the ocean!

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MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Ben Dold, Midco
Matthew Dorothy, Innovative Proteins USA
Sean Ervin, TSP
Jenn Lacey, USGS EROS
Julie Mickelberg, Community Volunteer
Cecelia Miles, Augustana University
Andrea Miller, Journey Construction
Gary Popkes, Frontier Bank
Brian Vognild, Friessen Construction
Anita Wetsch, Lloyd Companies

Upcoming Events All Events »

Tai Chi

September 23 at 9:00am

Yoga

September 24 at 10:00am

Tai Chi

September 30 at 9:00am