In 2014, the Center for Conservation and Stewardship at Cincinnati Nature Center launched its signature conservation initiative, “Milkweed to Monarchs.” Since its inception, numerous educational programs on monarchs have been developed and delivered, millions of native milkweed seeds have been distributed locally, and the Nature Center has enhanced 60 acres of monarch/pollinator habitat on its land, with another 50 acres scheduled over the next two years.
In 2015, the the Nature Center actively restored a 10 acre abandoned agricultural field on their property to native grassland. Less than 1 percent of Ohio’s native grassland remains; these areas provided vital native milkweeds and nectar sources for pollinators. Introducing native flowering forbs to this 10 acre plot will attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies as well as grassland nesting birds. The seed mix included native milkweeds to attract monarchs.Once mature, this Monarch Waystation will be used for native seed collection, and will provide an outdoor learning space for monarch conservation and monitoring workshops or demonstrations. These opportunities will teach visitors about seed collection, the importance of using native plants, citizen science monitoring, and more.
In 2016, the Nature Center will create 10,000 square foot butterfly garden for the purpose of demonstrating monarch conservation and citizen science opportunities. The garden will be located along their Discovery Trail, one of their most popular and well-traveled trails. It allows easy access to other important habitats as well, including the prairie, pond, vernal pool, and nearby forest, enhancing educational opportunities - specifically the ecological connections between different habitat types. The garden will demonstrate what a butterfly garden is; what native plants can be used; how people can implement a butterfly garden on their land; the importance of both nectar and host plants; and more. It will also be utilized as a demonstration site to teach techniques and methods for monitoring and citizen science programs.
You can learn more about the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Milkweed to Monarchs program on their website.