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Notes from the Field: First Week on Team Monarch by Clarissa Ortega

May 17, 2023


  • Community Science
  • MJV Partnership News
Clarissa Ortega_Mt. Diablo State Park
Clarissa Ortega at Mt. Diablo State Park lookout, taken by Sarah Gomes.

My name is Clarissa Ortega, and I am one of the newest Field Technician interns working with the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) and Environment for the Americas (EFTA). I have only been working in this position for a few weeks, but I'm already super excited to experience what these great organizations have to offer. 

During my time so far, I have had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the different monitoring protocols the MJV has in place to track monarchs throughout California, such as the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) and the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP).

We had an in-person training at Mount Diablo State Park in California, where we toured around the park until we finally found some California milkweed (Asclepias californica)! After this, we got some hands-on training on the IMMP protocols, including setting up transects at sites to identify any milkweeds and blooming plants at each site. We then checked any milkweeds in our plot for signs of monarchs, whether munched leaves, larvae, caterpillars, or adult monarchs, and recorded all our observations.

We also had the chance to visit the Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, hosted by MJV partners Pollinator Posse, to learn about all sorts of plants/pollinators and the importance of seed mixes for attracting pollinators year-round. The Pollinator Posse co-founders, Tora & Terry, were also kind enough to share some of their native bee expertise with us and allowed us to help the bees hatch from their cocoons!

It has been a wonderful time getting to know my team members and being able to join all of our areas of expertise to see this project through. The collaboration aspect has been unreal to me that right off the bat, we got to meet a few partners from other organizations that are interested in working with pollinators as well. 

Although we are all working towards a common goal, it has been interesting to see how we each contribute differently to the project. It is truly wonderful to know that I have such a knowledgeable and lovely team at my side, and I hope to continue learning as much as I can from these organizations!

Native bees hatching_Clarissa Ortega
Native bees hatching by Clarissa Ortega