2016 Monarch Butterfly Tour: A Trip Report

International Save the Monarchs Team
Our international team of collaborators, working to conserve monarch habitat in Mexico, the USA & Canada. From left: Peggy Farabaugh of Vermont Woods Studios, John Hayden of The Farm Between, Dr. Heather Darby, UVM Extension Specialist, Jose Luis Alvarez of Forests for Monarchs, Francois Simard of Industries Encore 3 & Roger Rainville of BorderView Farm.

Monarch Habitat Restoration in the USA, Mexico & Canada

Last week Mexican monarch butterfly conservationist, Jose Luis Alvarez & Canadian entrepreneur, Francois Simard joined Megan & me for our Save the Monarch Butterfly tour of New England. We stopped at 8 venues from Boston to Philadelphia, and then wrapped it up with a visit to monarch researcher, Dr Lincoln Brower in Virginia.

Monarchs on the Brink

The purpose of the tour was to raise awareness about the urgent need to conserve the monarch’s habitat in the USA, Mexico & Canada.  Monarch Watch estimates we’ve lost 147 million acres (an area 4 times the size of Illinois) of summer habitat in the USA & Canada since they began monitoring in 1992.  During that same time frame, the total area occupied by monarchs in their Mexican winter forest habitat has shrunk from a high of 52 acres to about 2 acres.

Senor Alvarez discussing how climate change is affecting the monarchs. Boston Museum of Science.
Jose Luis Alvarez, speaking about monarch migration to a group at the Boston Museum of Science.

Can 3 Small Businesses Collaborate to Make A Difference?

Because the monarch migrates from it’s summer habitat (milkweed & nectar plants) in the USA & Canada to it’s winter habitat in Mexico (oyamel trees in the mountains of Michoacan), it has become a symbol of conservation that unites all 3 North American countries.  At Vermont Woods Studios, we’ve been planting milkweed for years and giving seedlings away to anyone in our area who will plant them.  But we also wanted to help restore monarch habitat in Mexico & Canada.  So we joined with Mexican conservationist, Jose Luis Alvarez of Forests for Monarchs and Canadian entrepreneur, Francois Simard of Industries Encore 3 to help Save the Monarch Butterfly.  It’s a grass roots effort by 3 small green businesses in 3 different countries.  With your help I think we can make it successful!

Sending thanks to the good folks at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum for hosting our Save the Monarch Butterfly Tour!
Sending thanks to the good folks at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum for hosting our Save the Monarch Butterfly Tour! From left: Megan Fulton of Vermont Woods Studios, Pam Thompson of the Arnold Arboretum, Kate Stonefoot of the Arnold Arboretum, Andrew Gapinski of the Arnold Arboretum, Jose Luis Alvarez of Forests for Monarchs, & Peggy Farabaugh of Vermont Woods Studios.

Monarchs In the News

I feel the tour did pretty well in raising awareness about the monarch’s plight.  Attendance was excellent at each of our tour stops and many wonderful people have signed up to help us as we continue our work in conserving habitat in the USA, Mexico and Canada.  Local media covered out events generously, with segments on outlets as diverse as:  Vermont Public Radio,  Woodworking Network, MyChamplainValley TV, Yahoo Finance, New England Newspapers, WCAX TV and dozens of others.

Nina Keck of Vermont Public Radio interviewed me about the monarchs. What a pro she is! Thanks Nina.
Sam Gale Rosen of Vermont Public Radio invited Jose Luis Alvarez & me on Vermont Edition where I had a chance to talk to Nina Keck about the monarchs.

Follow Up Activities

One thing we weren’t able to do was grab the attention of the national media and focus it on the monarchs.  That still needs to happen if we are to gain the support necessary to restore enough habitat to make a difference. Please share the monarch’s story with your family & friends as social media can certainly help elevate the cause to a national level.

The Farm Between in Jeffersonville is an organic farm specializing in fruit trees, berry bushes, and pollinator plants. From left: Jose Luis Alvarez, John & Nancy Hayden of The Farm Between, Megan Fulton & Peggy Farabaugh.
We stopped at the Farm Between in Jeffersonville VT,  an organic farm specializing in fruit trees, berry bushes, and pollinator plants. From left: Jose Luis Alvarez, John & Nancy Hayden of The Farm Between, Megan Fulton & Peggy Farabaugh.

How You Can Help

Throughout the tour, attendees were brainstorming with us about how to help the monarchs survive. We came up with several ideas you might be interested in:

  • Travel to sunny Mexico & tour the monarch’s over-wintering habitat – I took Jose Luis’ Spirit of Butterflies tour this past February and got to see millions of butterflies huddled together in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site in Central Mexico. If you’re a nature nut, this will probably go on your bucket list.
  • Donate to Forests For Monarchs FFM, the non-profit Jose Luis Alvarez started in 1997 with the goal of planting 1 million trees/year in the monarch over-wintering area.  Each dollar donated to FFM will plant 2 trees.
  • Create Monarch Habitat in your yard
  • Sign up for our Save the Monarchs Newsletter
  • Join our Save the Monarchs efforts on Facebook
  • Stop by or call our Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store & collaborate with us. We’re always looking for new people and ideas to help conserve & restore monarch habitat!
Young monarch fans working the WCAX cameras at the ECHO Center in Burlington, VT.
Young monarch fans working the WCAX cameras at the ECHO Center in Burlington, Vermont.
Michelle Frankel, hosted the Monarch Tour at Audubon- Greenwich in Conncecticut.
Michelle Frankel, our host at Audubon Greenwich chats with Jose Luis (left) while our favorite two sisters, Elise and Paula share a laugh with Peggy.
Eric Larson and Josh Gendron hosted the Monarch Tour at Yale's Marsh Botanical Garden
Our thanks to Eric Larson & Josh Gendron who hosted us at Yale’s Marsh Botanical Garden.
Dr. Carlos Martínez Rivera gave us a tour of the Philadelphia Zoo prior to our Monarch event there.
Dr. Carlos Martínez Rivera gave us a tour of the Philadelphia Zoo prior to our Monarch event there.  Thanks, Carlos & Kim Lengel.
We wrapped up the tour with a visit to see Dr Lincoln Brower who has devoted his career to studying the monarch butterfly.
We wrapped up the tour with a visit to see Dr Lincoln Brower who has devoted his entire career to studying the monarch butterfly.

Additional pictures of our 2016 Save the Monarch Butterfly tour are posted on Vermont Woods Studios Facebook.  I have to say the tour was great fun!  We met fascinating people who inspired us to keep going on this journey to who knows where.  I hope you’ll join us to see where we end up.

Why we care about Monarchs.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Peggy Farabaugh

She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.

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