It is the height of the monarch migration season. By all reports, it has been a great year to be involved in the conservation of this species. Summer numbers are up and my own experience supports that observation.
As school restarts, it is a busy time for me as a non-formal educator. In the last two weeks I have done a fair amount of outreach and enrichment education for both adults and children.
Last week I spoke to a room full of Lion’s Club members in a nearby town. There were probably 35 in attendance, most of whom were interested in my talk on monarch conservation and habitat restoration. There were several thoughtful questions, and the group was very welcoming. This group reached out to me in late summer having been recommended to have me present by a member of the Lion’s Club in my own town that heard me speak last April.
The garden club I facilitate for elementary students in a nearby district also started last week. My enrollment went from 4 to 22 this year, in the second year of the club! Since we have a certified Monarch WayStation at the school with a habitat for the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinators, our first meeting focused on the Monarch Life Cycle and Monarch Migration. This past summer I wrote a piece of curriculum for just this topic. I developed a mock monarch migration game! This was the perfect opportunity for me to pilot it! And, I did so! The students also helped me to tag and release three live monarch butterflies. There was a lot of excitement in the air! The students in this group are mostly in second and third grade. They are very enthusiastic!
On Sunday, in my yard, I tagged and released three more monarchs. After doing so, I was wandering around with my phone (we were getting ready to host a cider making party) and caught five monarchs nectaring on my Wild Romance New England Aster! None of the five were the butterflies I had tagged the hour before! Wow! It was cool to have eight monarchs in my yard within such a short time span! When our cider party guests arrived, I got to do impromptu enrichment on this phase of the monarch life cycle, my tagging progress, and the chrysali (7) I still have waiting to eclose in my laundry room. Our guests are good friends to tolerate my monarch passion without too much teasing! I considered this some outreach.
Monday, or yesterday, brought another presentation day. This happened to be at an adult care facility less than a half mile from my home. The activities director had reached out to me after seeing some of my posts on social media. Her son and mine are classmates at our local high school. For this group, I had made a special presentation due to a limited time frame and the constrictions they might have on helping to sustain the monarch population. But, I was pleased to know that they plan to plant milkweed and flowers so that local monarchs, perhaps even some from my own yard, can visit and find habitat on their facility grounds. There were only five adults in the group but it was a nice addition to my outreach.
Today, I head over to a neighboring school district where I have presented on monarchs before. My friend, and teacher contact, reached out to me at the start of the school year to see if I’d be interested in coming back to their first grade classrooms. There are seven of them! So, I will be presenting for a half hour in each of the classes over the next three days. I’m excited to share some new video I have and hear what they already know about monarch butterflies and their special habitat requirements. I’ve always said that to create future environmental stewards we need to expose students to the awe that exists in our natural world when they are young. I see myself as an integral part planting the seed of environmental stewardship when I share my passion for monarchs with young students.
So, there you have it! The monarch season is winding down. There is much more I could write about, including how my own season progressed this year. If you are interested in my serial posts from this year, before I publish the final counts, observations, etc., please click on the links below.
Do you ever invite a non-formal educator into your classroom? If so, on what topic did you have them present?
Today is Slice of Life Tuesday when my post and other bloggers share within a forum hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. I am both pleased and proud to be part of such a supportive writing community since March of 2017! Thank you to our skilled and wonderful hosts!