Monarch Butterfly Team

Project Partners

Michael Gale and Noah Kahn, US Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System

Board Advisor

Dave Mizejewski


The EWCL Monarch team project goal was to support planting of milkweed and nectar-producing plants along the central flyway to help monarch butterflies survive their migration – and ultimately thrive as a species.

The migration route for the eastern population of the monarch butterfly ranges from the Texas border with Mexico northward to Minnesota. This imperiled, international species is dwindling, particularly due to loss of milkweed plants along their migration route. Milkweed serves as the sole food source for monarch caterpillars and is important for adults to feed on during their migration.

The first part of the project was to partner with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to recruit cities to sign their Mayors’ Monarch Pledge — an initiative where mayors commit to taking specific conservation actions in their community. These actions range from issuing a proclamation to changing mowing practices to creating a demonstration butterfly garden at city hall. The EWCL team committed to recruiting twelve municipalities in the Midwest, focusing on states critically important to the monarch migration but where NWF has limited resources, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The second part of the project aimed to increase coordination among the many groups and institutions already working on monarch conservation. In response to feedback gathered from stakeholders, we sought to create an interactive, web-based “PowerMap” resource with the support of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Monarch Joint Venture that could connect groups working toward a common goal. The PowerMap identifies stakeholders and key players in monarch habitat conservation along the central flyway. It would help municipalities and others identify who in their region is already working on monarch conservation, where to buy milkweed, what academic institutions in their region could give presentations to citizens, what local nonprofits have experience with monarch butterfly conservation, and many other applications.

With the help of SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the team also committed to establishing a ‘EWCL Take Flight Fund’ to take its support of municipalities a step further – using the seed money literally as seed money for cities to jumpstart their milkweed planting efforts. These funds would go toward milkweed plant purchases and result in creation and restoration of milkweed habitat.

Monarch Butterfly


    Monarch “PowerMap” Online Tool

    In order to support both municipalities who have committed to monarch conservation as well as others working in the field, the EWCL Monarch team aimed to provide a resource outlining state and local entities already committed to monarch butterfly conservation.

    With the support of SeaWorld, the team created a web-based “Monarch PowerMap” along the central flyway for the monarch butterfly to better help raise awareness of monarch conservation efforts and facilitate connections among entities involved in monarch work. The tool may be used by government agencies or other entities who may wish to identify monarch allies in order to build a coalition for conservation activities.

    This map will be hosted on the website of Monarch Joint Venture – a partnership of more than 50 conservation, education, and research partners from across the United States are working together to conserve the monarch migration. The team gathered information for the PowerMap’s database via surveys, outreach and presentations in the Midwest, and worked with the Monarch Joint Venture to refine the tool so it would be most useful to the goals of the monarch community. Currently, the PowerMap’s database contains approximately 550 conservation groups, research projects, educational institutions and other stakeholders.

    The EWCL team presented the Monarch PowerMap at the Annual Meeting of the Monarch Joint Venture in November 2016, where it was enthusiastically received by experts in the monarch conservation field as a potentially very useful tool for monarch collaborations going forward.

    Mayors Monarch Pledge Recruitment

    The EWCL Monarch team aimed to reach out to at least five target mayors in each of the following states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin; secure commitments from at least 12 cities to sign the Mayors’ Monarchs Pledge, including at least 2 each in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin where NWF currently has limited capacity.

    The team is pleased to report that it surpassed its goal and recruited 17 cities to sign the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. This effort required outreach by the EWCL team to more than 1,000 cities in the target region. The EWCL team significantly helped in states where NWF had limited capacity by signing up 2 cities in Illinois, 9 in Minnesota, 5 in Iowa and 1 in Wisconsin.

    The cities signed up to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge are all entered into NWF’s database of cities (now more than 200+ and growing). Going forward, cities will be required to submit progress reports, and NWF’s community habitat team will measure progress.

    Cities recruited and signed up to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge by EWCL Monarch team:

    • Newton, IA
    • North Branch, MN
    • Lilydale, MN
    • Dassel, MN
    • Rockford, IL
    • Brooklyn Park, MN
    • Coralville, IA
    • Normal, IL
    • Falcon Heights, MN
    • Leroy, MN
    • Windsor Heights, IA
    • West Point, IA
    • Mount Vernon, IA
    • Otsego, MN
    • Baraboo, WI
    • Elk River, MN
    • Eagle Lake, MN


    migration map
    The EWCL team recruited 17 cities to the Mayors Monarchs Pledge (butterfly icons)
    and granted monarch seed to 42 cities (chrysalis icons)

    “Take Flight” Seed Grants

    The team’s objective was to support at least 12 cities participating in the Mayors Monarch Pledge with “EWCL Take Flight Fund” seed grants to support direct habitat conservation in their city, up to $500 for each city. To do this, the EWCL team created a simple application for cities to complete requesting these funds and developed criteria for selection, including size of the commitment to plant milkweed and opportunities to leverage capacity of the city to successfully implement their pledge.
    With support from a SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund grant, the team was able to provide milkweed to 42 cities in the central flyway. These cities are all Mayors’ Monarch Pledge Recipients and completed an application requesting milkweed to fulfill their pledge requirements. Milkweed will be sourced from Monarch Watch’s Milkweed Market, and come in a flat containing 32 milkweed plants. Each flat will support planting of one acre of a restoration project or planting in a 100-square foot community garden. The cities who will be receiving milkweed in Spring of 2017, and their intended use is below.
    The EWCL team worked with NWF to utilize their platforms (including list serves and social media) to raise awareness about EWCL and the opportunity to receive free milkweed via the EWCL Take Flight Fund. Once spring planting occurs from the milkweed provided by EWCL and SeaWorld, the team will provide NWF with success stories to share.

    • Normal, Illinois
      Plant milkweed in city gardens and parks
    • LeRoy, Minnesota
      Launch a program to plant native milkweeds and nectar plants in school gardens by engaging students, teachers and the community
    • Rockford, Illinois
      Plant milkweed and native nectar plants in medians and public rights-of-way.
    • Rockwall, Texas
      Plant butterfly gardens in the community
    • San Antonio, Texas
      Work with schools and community Gardens to plant milkweed
    • Marshalltown, Iowa
      Plant milkweed in a new Children’s Discovery garden at a centrally located park in Marshalltown
    • Grapevine, Texas
      Undergo a monarch habitat restoration project at Wall Farrar Nature Park in an upland meadow rich in native prairie grasses but lacking pollinator plants.
    • Quincy, Illinois
      Plant the milkweed along the banks of the Mississippi River.
    • EL Lago, Texas
      Will plant a demonstration butterfly garden at City Hall to help educate citizens
    • Kennedale, Texas
      Plant milkweed in a butterfly demonstration garden located inside the TownCenter park.
    • Topeka, Kansas
      Plant milkweed in city gardens and parks
    • Village of Glenview, Illinois
      Plant milkweed at Village Hall and on road medians and naturalized detention basins
    • Raymore,Missouri
      Plant monarch gardens in public spaces
    • Cuero, Texas
      Plant milkweed in several open area’s in the city’s West Main Street area that we are working to rehabilitate
    • Rockport, Texas
      Intend to plant in our natural areas throughout our park system
    • Saint Hedwig, Texas
      Will plant species that attract the Monarch butterfly at all city building and parks.
    • Houston, Texas
      Milkweed will be planted at prairie restoration sites, including Clinton Park, Hobart Taylor Park and Stuart Park.
    • Grand Prairie, Texas
      Plant monarch gardens in public spaces
    • Westland, Michigan
      Plant milkweed in city gardens and at schools
    • Zionsville, Indiana
      Plant the milkweed in several town-owned parks that don’t currently have milkweed, but do have other native nectar producing plants.
    • Dallas, Texas
      Planning to distribute them for planting in City Hall Monarch Garden and along median in Government District (Young Street between Akard and Ervay in downtown)
    • St. Louis, Missouri
      30 acres of monarch habitat will be restored along the Mississippi Riverfront by 2018
    • Coppell, Texas
      The milkweed will be planted in the native plant demonstration garden at the biodiversity education center at coppell nature park.
    • Round Rock, Texas
      Will plant the milkweed in native landscape beds in our parks (we have 8 parks with landscape beds) and in our medians along Great Oaks Drive we have 44 median beds on Great Oaks Drive
    • Lewisville, Texas
      Plant a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at a prominent location
    • Yukon, Oklahoma
      Will use this milkweed to replenish and expand our current butterfly garden and further education to the public regarding the need for butterfly loving plants
    • Grimes, Iowa
      We add a few more Butterfly Gardens next spring at a local parks NE of town where there is a large open space and prairie land behind it
    • Creve Coeur, Missouri
      We intent to use the plants to create a demonstration garden (Monarch Butterfly Waystation) at Millennium Park (public park) in Creve Coeur.
    • Niles, Illinois
      Will add milkweed and nectar producing plants in community gardens.
    • Hales Corners, Wisconsin
      The milkweed plants will be used in a pollinator garden that has been started in a community orchard in Hales Corners
    • Bryan, Texas
      Milkweed will be used to complete butterfly gardens, to bring the town total to nine
    • Village of Four Seasons, Missouri
      Will continue to plant milkweed throughout the Village in our gardens, and on our Village municipal property near skateboard park
    • Von Ormy, Texas
      Planting milkweed in the city park in order to conserve the Monarch Butterfly
    • Lake Saint Louis, Missouri
      The milkweed will be planted in our newly created Monarch butterfly garden in our city park— Hawk Ridge Park. The 1acre park site is dedicated to the monarchs for viewing by residents and visitors.
    • Novi, Michigan
      Will plant a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at City Hall or another prominent location.
    • Mansfield, Texas
      We would plant these plants around town at our city buildings and in our community gardens
    • Springfield, Illinois
      We have an area adjacent to Lake Springfield that will become our second official Monarch Waystation. We are also going to plant a butterfly garden near the Municipal Building in Downtown Springfield.
    • Lake Zurich, Illinois
      Will partner with community garden groups to plant native milkweeds and nectar-producing plants.
    • Falcon Heights, Minnesota
      We would like to plant them at one of our Community Parks
    • Fayetteville, Arkansas
      Will plant milkweed at the three monarch way stations in our parks.
    • Springdale, Arkansas
      Will support planting of milkweed at monarch waystations in the new Walter Turnbow Park, downtown Springdale and Springdale Razorback Greenway
    • Muskogee, Oklahoma
      Will add milkweed and nectar plants to community gardens, host Moonlight & Monarchs – a dinner, auction event to raise funds for children education programs and initiate a monarch festival for children

    Monarch Power Map

    The EWCL team recruited the assistance of a web developer to create the online PowerMap tool and negotiated with the Monarch Joint Venture to host and maintain the tool after the conclusion of the EWCL session. Thanks to funds from the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the software required to create and maintain the PowerMap was purchased and transferred to the Monarch Joint Venture at no cost to them.
    The database of monarch organizations, research, educators, government agencies, and other partners was compiled by the EWCL team through outreach to key stakeholders, and the map is searchable and sortable as requested by stakeholder groups who will use the tool.…


    Minnesota migration map


    Migration map


    • The EWCL Monarch Team has been supported by several key partners, including:
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
    • National Wildlife Federation
    • Monarch Joint Venture

    The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable species in North America, as well as an important pollinator. These beautiful insects and their amazing migration are in danger, but here is a wide array of opportunities for citizen scientists to make substantial contributions to monarch conservation, from planting habitat to educating others.