Learn about monarch butterfly initiative at Izaak Walton League meeting Oct. 4

  • In just the second year of the Schaumburg Monarch Initiative in 2018, 200 monarchs were released at Schaumburg Park District's Spring Valley Nature Center.

    In just the second year of the Schaumburg Monarch Initiative in 2018, 200 monarchs were released at Schaumburg Park District's Spring Valley Nature Center. Courtesy of Schaumburg Park District

 
 
Updated 9/28/2022 12:38 AM

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Elgin chapter of the Izaak Walton League will welcome Carol Johnson, founder of the Schaumburg Monarch Initiative, at 7 p.m. at the Hanover Township Izaak Walton Center at 899 Jay St. in Elgin.

In 2016, Johnson organized a Make A Difference Day milkweed collection project for her Master Gardener class.

 

Pat Miller, one of Monarch Watch's first Conservation Specialists, has mentored her since that first event. Frequent lunches with two garden club friends, Delores Potter and Judy Wood, led to starting, The Schaumburg Monarch Initiative, a monarch rearing and education group. In 2017, the butterfly ladies inspired the building of butterfly gardens at a restaurant and regional hospital.

Not one of the founders had raised a monarch. So, they took lessons, raised money, built, and supplied three outdoor rearing cages and recruited and trained over 65 volunteers.

In June 2018, the Schaumburg Monarch Initiative opened in space provided by the park district. The activities grew into educational programs with live monarch releases, twice daily, seven days a week. They won a Governor's Hometown Award after being nominated by the Village of Schaumburg. In 2019, over 6,000 guests attended the twice daily programs. All monarchs released were tested for OE disease, to avoid contaminating the 136-acre habitat. In 2020, the COVID pandemic required volunteers to raise monarchs in their homes, but networking and outreach continued. In 2021, the Nature Center opened for a few weeks in August and September. Two thousand and two hundred masked guests watched as monarchs were tagged and sent to Mexico.

Johnson led her group through the COVID pandemic by forming partnerships and working with the Illinois Monarch Project, community groups, parks, libraries, schools, businesses, and governmental agencies. Her contribution to Monarch Watch will be focused on registering Monarch Waystations and marketing the environmental and financial benefits of protecting pollinator habitats. Everyone knows butterflies are good for the environment, but Johnson can prove butterflies are good for business, too!

Learn more at www.facebook.com/izaakwaltonleagueelginchapter/ or schaumburgmonarch.com.

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