Monarch Conservation Toolbox

Pilot Projects

Symbolic Migration



Agency Type

Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat

Original Language
English, Spanish

The Symbolic Migration uses the monarch’s journey to unite students and communities across North America. In 2016, the 20th year of the project, over 60,000 students participated in this culture-building event. Students in Canada and the US make paper butterflies inscribed with greetings and send them with post-paid return envelopes to students in Mexico. “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” (Journey North 2015). Journey North then adds these various schools to the Symbolic Migration Map, online.