Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teacher Workshop: Send a Monarch to Mexico

In the fall, over 60,000 students across the globe created symbolic butterflies and sent them to Mexico as part of Journey North. The Symbolic Monarch represents the gift of goodwill that each country must contribute to ensure the survival of this shared natural resource. Children who live beside the Monarchs' winter sanctuaries in Mexico protect the paper butterflies and return them in the spring. Through the Symbolic Migration, children are united by the Monarch butterfly and celebrate its spectacular migration. They learn authentic lessons of conservation and international cooperation. A global study of wildlife migration, Journey North engages citizen scientists and K-12 students in sharing their own field observations with classmates across North America. They track the coming of spring through the migration patterns of butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, gray whales, bald eagles— and other birds and mammals; the budding of plants; changing sunlight; and other natural events.

The symbolic butterflies' fall flight is timed to correspond with the real Monarchs' journey south. As the eastern population of North American Monarchs are arriving in Mexico for the winter, students from the sanctuary region receive their symbolic butterflies. Sometime in March when the real Monarchs' departure from Mexico is announced, the paper butterflies return north carrying special messages from the students in Mexico.

Darke County Parks’ Naturalist, Mandy Martin, visited Mrs. Flora’s class at East Intermediate in September of 2015 and began the 8 month Journey North Symbolic Migration project with the students. The children learned about the natural history of the Monarch butterfly and the incredible journey the butterflies make each fall. Children discovered the life cycle of the beautiful insect, the tools the insect uses for survival and the migration path of the winged jewel. The students then decorated individual paper butterflies and one large class butterfly to be included in the Journey North Symbolic Migration. The children’s artistic creations were sent to classrooms in Mexico near the winter sanctuaries of the Monarch butterflies. In February of 2016, Mrs. Flora’s class was notified of the location in which their class butterfly ‘landed’ in Mexico. By connecting to the Journey North website, the students in Greenville were able to see pictures of the Mexican students holding their class butterflies! Finally, coinciding with the spring migration, Mrs. Flora’s class began receiving butterflies, after wintering in Mexico, from all over the United States and Canada.

Darke County Parks invites teachers on Saturday, August 27th at 2pm to participate in the global conservation effort of the iconic Monarch Butterfly. Join Mandy Martin for an afternoon highlighting how the program works and how to get involved. She’ll begin scheduling naturalist classroom visits to start your class on this magnificent journey. This program is completely free though registration is required. If you are interested in your classroom participating in the Symbolic Monarch program but can’t attend the workshop, contact Mandy Martin at the Nature Center. She will be happy to work with you individually.

For questions about this program or any other program offered by the Darke County Parks or to register, please stop by the Nature Center, call (937) 548-0165, or email info@darkecountyparks.org.

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