The current spectrum of MJV partners ranges broadly in size, structure, and audience, but all have one thing in common – dedication to conserving the amazing monarch butterfly. The MJV plays an integral role in coordinating monarch conservation efforts across the country and facilitating partnership building within our umbrella to strengthen these efforts. Recently, we welcomed the Cincinnati Nature Center to the partnership and are excited to introduce an initiative that they have already established to aid in monarch conservation in the Midwest Corn Belt, called Milkweed to Monarchs.
Cincinnati Nature Center preserves over 1,600 acres of protected and managed forests, grasslands, farms, ponds and streams for the purpose of visitor experience and education. In addition to habitat management and invasive species control on Nature Center land, they recently converted 75 acres of abandoned agricultural fields to native grasslands, creating habitat for grassland nesting birds and pollinators, including monarchs.
In 2014, they launched a major regional initiative to increase planting of milkweed in southwest Ohio. Milkweed to Monarchs began in October with a free seed giveaway; to-date, they have given away 50,000 seed packets. Packets contain three varieties of milkweed native to the region: swamp, butterfly and common milkweeds, as well as planting instructions. The initiative has reached beyond its original vision, picking up a large amount of media attention, engaging local businesses and schools, and providing opportunities to consult with local schools and businesses on how to plant milkweed habitat on their property. In 2015, they continue to expand the program by strengthening community partnerships and working with MJV partners to integrate existing resources and conservation opportunities into the program.
The Corn Belt region of the U.S. has been identified as a priority area for monarch conservation due to the number of monarchs that it can support during the breeding season. Many of our MJV partners are engaging in work throughout the Midwest Corn Belt to not only increase the habitat for monarchs, but expand research and monitoring efforts and boost awareness by providing educational opportunities. Here are just a few things that our MJV partners are doing in the Corn Belt:
- The University of Minnesota Monarch Lab facilitates numerous monarch conservation workshops for educators and promotes the establishment of schoolyard butterfly gardens.
- Monarch Watch distributes thousands of milkweed plugs to schools and private landowners throughout the Corn Belt each year and coordinates the Monarch Waystation program.
- Pollinator Partnership launched Monarch Wings Across Ohio to promote monarch conservation throughout the state.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Tallgrass Prairie Center work on habitat restoration and milkweed seed increase in Iowa.
- Wild Ones headquarters are in Wisconsin and they launched a Wild for Monarchs campaign to promote native milkweed and nectar plants for monarchs to their network.
A strong and coordinated effort throughout the state of Ohio will help support a robust network of habitat for monarchs and other pollinators in the state, and will hopefully promote a rebounding monarch population. We’re excited to bring Cincinnati Nature Center on board to strengthen habitat conservation and citizen science monitoring in this region.
For more information, visit their website here: http://www.cincynature.org/