Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
With 647 hectares (1,600 acres) of native habitat, and half a century of land management experience, the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Milkweed to Monarchs conservation initiative is poised for successful monarch habitat. Started in 2014, this conservation initiative focuses on educating the public about the decline of the monarch butterfly. Part of this education includes the promotion of gardening and planting native milkweed species. Working with various partners in the region, the Cincinnati Nature Center has worked to increase the availability of locally sourced native milkweed seeds. There are over 25 organizations that distribute free native milkweed seeds to interested conservation practitioners.
Packets include three different native species of milkweeds: swamp, butterfly and common. The seed packets are geared toward backyard gardeners, and each packet includes detailed instructions with proper planting techniques. The Cincinnati Nature Center’s conservation education efforts also include citizen science. Utilizing the citizen science project Journey North, the Cincinnati Nature Center is encouraging people to report the presence of milkweed, monarch eggs, larvae and adults. Entries to the Journey North database provide researchers with valuable knowledge that aids in conservation efforts. The early success of the program was evident in the large amount of media attention received and the number of people and organizations that quickly became involved. Future goals include expanding on the ground restoration work and bringing more organizations on board (Cincinnati Nature Center 2014).