Monarch Pledge

by Suzanna Dooling and Kathy Webb

Since the 2018 Mayors’ Monarch Pledge Proclamation, our Monarch Conservation efforts are uniting North Texas Master Naturalists and Denton County’s Elm Fork Master Naturalists in a terrific way! The two chapters are collaborating in Carrollton on the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, a national initiative by the National Wildlife Federation. 

Through the National Wildlife Federation Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, U.S. cities, municipalities, and other communities are committing to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, and to educate citizens, about how they can make a difference at home and in their community.

Suzanna Dooling encourages planting a Monarch ‘Pocket’

Kathy Webb, of the Elm Fork chapter, approached Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer about taking the pledge, and after asking Pat Cochran and Suzanna Dooling to join her as Public Relations and Education Coordinators, respectfully, she created the committee. We created an action plan to implement monarch conservation through outreach and education, including talking to citizens and the City of Carrollton about habitat loss and restoration. In 2018, Mayor Falconer approved the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Since then, the committee has held classes, seminars, and events promoting awareness on how to create healthy habitats with milkweed.

The Mayors Monarch Pledge consists of 24 action items, 10 of which we have accomplished within the first year. Through outreach and education, we held workshops and seminars for both adults and children. Kathy and Pat also reached out to science teachers about their STEM relationships and goals. We brought more attention to Monarch conservation efforts by having display tables with local businesses, garden groups, and city events.

Here are our highest priority items:

Action Item #2 Launch a public communication effort to encourage citizens to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their gardens.

In our effort to restore urbanized habitat in Carrollton for the monarchs, we focus on how homeowners can improve their property. By simply decreasing turf areas and converting them to small ‘pocket’ areas that include native milkweeds and nectar plants, homeowners can help restore the monarch population. Each of their small efforts create one huge effect! We offer education on the monarch migration, the importance of native nectar and milkweed, and we also design Monarch gardens with the best plants for Carrollton. 

Action Item #4 Convene city park and public works department staff and identify opportunities for revised mowing programs and milkweed/native plant planting programs

The Friends of Furneaux Creek is a volunteer organization in Denton County which has been remarkably successful in partnering with Carrollton Parks and Recreation to decrease mowing areas and plant native plants and milkweeds. Carrollton residents and local Master Naturalists have been dedicated to restoring the city green space along the creek to also include walking trails with multiple activities such as guided hikes and classes that educate on the importance of our eco-systems. There are several pollinator gardens and a registered Monarch Waystation, where people come to watch for butterflies and caterpillars! Information on their kiosk tells of upcoming events and educates people on a variety of plant and wildlife topics.

Action Item #8 Plant a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at City Hall or other prominent location

The Josey Ranch Pocket Prairie is a restoration project by Parks and Rec, the Monarch Pledge Committee, and Texas Master Naturalists. Since 2015, North Texas Master Naturalists and Carrollton volunteers have participated with Parks and Rec to plant two Monarch Waystations, and to adopt restorative Blackland Prairie practices. Together, we have increased the variety of native plants, pollinators, and wildlife, and have adopted proper regenerative eco-system practices.

NTMN volunteers at the Josey Ranch Pocket Prairie

Our vision is to make this a learning garden:  intentional and educational. Our groundwork has fostered collaboration between master naturalists and master gardeners to design the Pocket Prairie into the Savoy of Josey Ranch Learning Garden. Through better mowing and pest management practices, removing invasive species, and planting native nectar and milkweeds since 2016, the health of that area has improved significantly, decreasing invasive plants and insects, and increasing beneficial ones. We have planted two monarch waystations and have planted an additional 67 varieties of flowers and grasses.

Action Item #11 Launch a program to plant native milkweeds and nectar plants in school gardens by engaging students, teachers, and community

The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge committee works with schools to help them create their own gardens. We also offer on-going education and support. Gardens provide terrific teaching and learning experiences and provide a life-long interest in science and conservation. They’re an invaluable resource to teachers who are engaging students to connect to a natural world.

Students at Harmony School of Innovation planting a Monarch garden

Our relationship with the City of Carrollton has proven extraordinarily successful. The city has  not only improved mowing practices, but they have also provided additional irrigation, purchased milkweed seeds, provided staff liaisons, offered public forum space, and included water-bill inserts and workshops on how to be water-wise with native plants. 

The Carrollton Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is thriving. We’re confident we can make a huge impact on Monarch Conservation and inspire generations to come to take care of our Blackland Prairie Monarch habitat so that they can continue to have the happy experience of a monarch landing on their sleeves!

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