Educators play an important role in monarch conservation, Whether you are a formal PreK-12 teacher; an informal or environmental educator; a college professor; or something inbetween, your institution can support and encourage conservation actions for monarchs and pollinators that have the potential to go far beyond one lesson or outreach event. By teaching and spreading awareness about monarchs and pollinators, you have the power not only to foster a love for conservation and the natural world in youth and your community, but to be the driving force behind getting people across the nation involved in this important effort. Your role is crucial in teaching the next generation to be good environmental stewards; they are the future of monarch conservation!  

Monarchs offer an opportunity to teach young people critical thinking and to foster curiosity about the connections between diverse areas and people. Monarchs are globally distributed and are admired across cultures and borders.

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught." - Baba Dioum

Creating Monarch Habitat for Education

Habitat Planning and Investment:

Monarch habitat is pollinator habitat and thus, is essential to our food supply. Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Pollinator habitat adds beauty to any setting with its vibrant displays of flowers and by attracting insects, birds, and other wildlife.  A demonstration or schoolyard garden or habitat requires some maintenance, but is an enjoyable opportunity for hands- on education, and to get community members involved by helping to keep up the space and interacting with students.  

Start by thinking about potential areas to install pollinator habitat. If possible, you’ll want an area that is sunny, easily accessible, and in plain sight for passersby.  If students are helping to plan and install the habitat, have them help with the design by brainstorming, drawing out what to plant and where (based on colors, plant height, etc.), and taking measurements of the space. If you are in a school, getting the full support of school administration and maintenance staff will help ensure the long term success of your garden.  Use Monarch Joint Venture’s Monarch Habitat Assessment Tool and Schoolyard Butterfly Gardens handout to inform your initial planning efforts. The National Wildlife Federation offers schoolyard habitat planning tools and resources as well.


There are a lot of funding opportunities out there for monarch and pollinator habitat in schoolyard gardens. Education Outside lists funding opportunities for school gardens. In addition, the Monarch Lab lists garden grant opportunities. Monarch Watch offers milkweeds for large restoration projects (greater than 2 acres), which can be applied for here. Planting milkweeds native to your ecoregion is important.  Seek out local sources of pesticide-free plants.

Education and Monitoring:

Explore and utilize available curriculum lessons, or create your own, to engage students in outdoor learning.

Many certification programs are available to register or certify your habitat for increased exposure and generating awareness. Use these to share your story and display signage to draw attention to the site and its value for monarchs and pollinators. Create your own signage to inform others about the purpose of the habitat, how it came to be, and what they can do in their own yards.

You can also learn about and provide valuable information to scientists about how monarchs are utilizing habitat in your pollinator garden through citizen science. These projects provide a great opportunity to involve students or community members in your monarch or pollinator project while contributing to a larger scientific effort. Citizen science is also an excellent way to actively engage your students in every stage of scientific process. Monarch citizen science opportunities are described here.

For informal educators, there are many existing resources and activities available that you can conduct with all ages to spread the word about monarchs.

Case Studies

Below are some examples of students benefiting from pollinator habitat along with the monarchs:

More information

  • provides more information on creating habitat for monarchs, including sourcing native, locally sourced seeds and plants and selecting what is appropriate for your area.
  • Learn about pollinator habitat and how to teach habitat restoration to K-12 students in the Earth Partnerhsip's new Pollinator Habitat Guide
  • In addition, the MJV has compiled many valuable resources from our partners on our Downloads and Links page. These handouts provide great information, but can also be downloaded and distributed to various audiences.
  • Utilize the monarch curricula from the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab and the National Wildlife Federation.
  • More lesson plans from Journey North, U.S. Forest Service, and MLMP.
  • Consider having your class or students become Butterfly Heroes!
  • Participate with your class in Journey North's Symbolic Monarch Butterfly Migration.
  • Watch the film Flight of the Butterflies with your students. 
  • Find books, educational supplies, and artwork from Bas Relief, LLC.
  • The Field Museum created a monarch book and monarch coloring book that's free to download! Find it here under the "LEARN MORE ABOUT MONARCH BUTTERFLIES" section. 


  • Bartlett, Sheridan (1996). Access to Outdoor Play and Its Implications for Healthy Attachments. Unpublished article, Putney, VT
  • Bixler, Robert D., Floyd, Myron E. & Hammitt, William E. (2002). Environmental Socialization: Quantitative Tests of the Childhood Play Hypothesis, Environment and Behavior, 34(6), 795-818
  • Bunting, T.E. & L.R. Cousins (1985) Environmental dispositions among school-age children. Environment and Behavior, 17(6)
  • Chawla, Louise, (1988) Children's Concern for the Natural Environment, Children's Environments, (5)3
  • Chipeniuk, Raymond C. (1994). Naturalness in Landscape: An Inquiry from a Planning Perspective (PhD dissertation), University of Waterloo, Ontario.
  • Cobb, E. (1977). The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood, New York, Columbia University Press.
  • Crain, William (2001). Now Nature Helps Children Develop. Montessori Life, Summer 2001.
  • Fisman, Lianne (2001). Child's Play: An empirical study of the relationship between the physical form of schoolyards and children's behavior, MESc 2001. Accessed June 1, 2004 from
  • Fjortoft, I. And J. Sageie (2000). The Natural Environment as a Playground for Children: Landscape Description and Analysis of a Natural Landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning 48(1/2), 83-97
  • Fjortoft, Ingunn (2001). The Natural Environment as a Playground for Children: The Impact of Outdoor Play Activities in Pre-Primary School Children. Early Childhood Education Journal 29(2), 111-117
  • Grahn, P., Martensson, F., Llindblad, B., Nilsson, P., & Ekman, A., (1997). UTE pa DAGIS, Stad & Land nr. 93/1991 Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Alnarp
  • Pyle, Robert (1993). The thunder trees: Lessons from an urban wildland. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Pyle, Robert (2002). Eden in a Vacant Lot: Special Places, Species and Kids in Community of Life. In: Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural and Evolutionary Investigations. Kahn, P.H. and Kellert, S.R. (eds) Cambridge: MIT Press
  • Schultz, P. Wesley, Shriver, Chris, Tabanico, Jennifer J. & Khazian, Azar M. (2004) Implicit connections with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24(1), 31-42
  • Sobel, David (1996). Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart of Nature Education, Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society.
  • Sobel, David (2002). Children's Special Places: Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood, Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press
  • Sobel, David (2004). Place-Based Education, Connecting Classrooms & Communities, Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society.
  • Taylor, A.F., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior, 30(1), 3-27
  • Taylor, A.F., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment and Behavior, 33(1), 54-77
  • Taylor, A.F., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63
  • Wells, Nancy M. (2000). At Home with Nature, Effects of "Greenness" on Children's Cognitive Functioning, Environment and Behavior, 32(6), 775-795
  • Wells, Nancy M. & Evans, Gary W. (2003). Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress Among Rural Children. Environment and Behavior, 35(3), 311-330.
  • Wilson, Ruth (1993). Fostering a sense of wonder during the early childhood years. Columbus, OH: Greyden
  • Wilson, Ruth A. (1997). The Wonders of Nature - Honoring Children's Ways of Knowing, Early Childhood News, 6(19).