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A Math Teacher In California Discovers A Butterfly With An Arizona Phone Number Attached

It’s the little things in life that bring joy, and that's what happened a few weeks ago when a Monarch butterfly flew through a California high school classroom window, landing on the math teacher's shoulder.

Then, the teacher looked closer at the butterfly’s wings and saw small, human-made tags, including a phone number with a southern Arizona area code.

He called the number and discovered that the butterfly had been tagged by naturalist Joe Billings.  

"You know that really made my day, let me tell you," said Billings. "Any time that you get a recovery long distance like that its hugely exciting. There's not a lot of them that happen. It's a pretty small percentage."

Billings has tagged more than 6,000 monarch butterflies over the past five years, but has only recovered about 60 from places like Nevada, California and near Mexico City.

But his latest recovery is the most meaningful so far.

"I suppose I thought by know I knew all their little quirks and tricks, but apparently not," he said. "Because I've never heard of a monarch flying through an open window in a building. I just don't know how to explain that."

Billings’ research on monarch butterflies will soon be published in a journal devoted to the study of moths and butterflies.

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Paul Atkinson produces The Show, KJZZ’s award-winning daily news and culture program. He rejoins the newsroom after working with KJZZ’s development team.Prior to returning to KJZZ, Atkinson served as communications director for the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and assistant director of strategic marketing and communications at the ASU Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. He earlier directed communications at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.In his first stint with KJZZ, Atkinson reported and hosted for KJZZ and produced the station's public affairs program, KJZZ’s Here and Now.Paul spent nine years reporting and producing “Arizona Horizon” on KAET, Phoenix‘s PBS station. He was a general assignment reporter at Phoenix CBS television affiliate KPHO and ABC television affiliate KIVI in Boise, Idaho. He also reported and anchored at NBC affiliate KYEL and ABC affiliate KSWT television in Yuma, Arizona. Atkinson worked as a video editor and tape coordinator at KGTV in San Diego and as a field producer for CNN and CNN Spanish in Washington, D.C.Atkinson earned his master’s degree in mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University, where he led a nationally ranked speech and debate team.Atkinson has volunteered with numerous nonprofits and schools over the years and served with many community and professional organizations. He’s won more than three dozen journalism awards, including regional Edward R. Murrow and Emmy awards, and a national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists. Atkinson has also been recognized as “Best Reporter of the Year” by the Arizona Associated Press Broadcasters Association for his work at KPHO.He lives in Gilbert with his wife, son and assortment of rescued animals.