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Students from the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Youth WITH ART community program created this incredible art project, butterfly garden and community gathering space! The space will be used as an outdoor classroom for a range of environmental topics. Learn more about this project later in the newsletter.

With the inevitable leadership change underway in our nation, we all face uncertain times. Nonprofits, such as Monarch Watch, are accustomed to riding the waves of administration changes. Sometimes the wave can seem like a tsunami, but together we can keep working for the greater good. Together, we can ride the wave. The earth and all of the precious inhabitants depend on this unity. Specifically, the survival of many of the world's threatened species depend on the amount of work and advocacy nonprofits and compassionate individuals can accomplish.

What sets pollinators slightly apart from many other imperiled species is the fact that we as humans depend greatly on them. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, animal pollinators are directly responsible for pollinating more than 35% of the world's food crops and 75% of the world's flowering plants! It is true the plight of pollinators has begun to grab the attention of many people the past few years. However, even with this attention, pollinator numbers continue to decline. The spotlight needs to be brighter.

As the thumb of an administration that views environmental activism as a block to economic development looms closer, now is the time to turn emotions into action. We all must find ways to advocate a little louder and more intentionally. The pollinators need our help. The planet needs our help.

So, how can we put our thoughts and emotions into direct action?

  • Continue reading this newsletter for ideas
  • I will be adding pages to our website with ideas and resources, so please bookmark the site and keep checking
  • Future newsletters will contain information on this theme
  • And as always, please contact me via email or forum with stories, pictures or examples of projects you and your students are involved with that show direct action. I will then share your experiences in order to inspire others!
Student Challenges
Native Bees
When attention is given to pollinators, it is usually placed on honeybees. Honeybees are important pollinators, but what about native bees? Native bees are extremely important pollinators, and their populations continue to decline due to much of the same reasons honeybee populations are declining. Here is a project that can be modified to any age group. 
  • According to most sources, there are approximately how many native bee species are in the United States alone?
  • Why are these native pollinators an important part of our ecosystem?
  • What are some reasons native bee populations are rapidly declining?
  • Can anything be done to help the native bees? If so, what?
  • What is the species name of the largest native bee? And the smallest?
Student Challenge discussions are now taking place in our forum. Head on over and let us know your thoughts!

Build a Native Bee House/Pollinator Habitat

One way to provide habitat and encourage native pollinators to take up residency in your garden is to build a bee house. Building a bee house can be a fun and rewarding class project during the "off season" months! There are many ways to build a native bee house, and a simple internet search will provide plenty of examples and instructions. Below are three pictures taken in our Waystation here at Monarch Watch, and one sent to us. After adding the house, it may take a season or two before bees begin using it. Other ways to provide habitat for native pollinators can be found throughout this newsletter. 
Head over to our forum to post pictures of your students completing this project!
Direct Action 
There are countless ways to make a positive impact on our planet, and many of you do this everyday. Direct action can look a number of ways. Below are just a few ideas for "pollinator-specific" direct action.
  • Create a habitat garden (or add specific habitat to your existing garden)
    • Build a native bee house- see above
    • Leave some ground exposed (no mulch or compost) and bare- many native pollinators nest in the ground
    • Add an old, weathered stump or limb- looks cool and provides habitat for pollinators
    • Provide a water source- fountain, bird bath, etc.
    • Plant native plants
    • Choose a wide variety of plants that provide different colors of blooms in each season, as well as plants that bloom at night for the moths and bats
    • Plant in clumps rather than single plants
    • Plant host plants- most butterfly and moth caterpillars depend on specific plants for food
    • Don't use synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals- if you must use something, there are plenty of organic options
    • Avoid heavy raking and manicuring of your garden
  • Educate your community
    • Host an event at your garden- open house, community work day with snacks provided, etc.
    • Sign up for a table at a community event- farmer's market, sustainability fairs, environmental days, etc.
    • Create a newsletter or social media page
  • Buy organic and/or locally-grown food when possible
  • Stay calm and don't be afraid of bees- they are not out to get you, and they rarely sting when they are just left alone
  • "Bee"come an educated advocate
    • Learn about common farm practices in your region and speak up against the use of harmful practices such as spraying neonicotinoids
    • Support local, organic farmers
    • Learn about state or national bills/laws affecting pollinators- write letters to your governmental officials, sign and share petitions, attend public comment meetings or other public events
 School News and Highlights
Need some inspiration? 

*Denise Préfontaine and the Kildonan-East Collegiate Girls’ Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada have created a public artwork, butterfly garden and gathering place! Two small photos of the mosaic tile monarch life cycle are above. To see more photos from the talented youth of this incredible art project, click here, and to read the featured news story, click here...good stuff!! 

*Jan Butler, a 4th-8th grade art teacher in Northeastern OK, shared this great video in our forum:

Do you have folders full of pictures and videos from your Waystation you would like to share with others? I am always in need of good quality pictures for these newsletters and our website. The pictures I use the most are ones with students involved in your gardens (ex. academics in the gardens, garden maintenance, identifying plants/insects, events in your gardens, etc.). And remember to share the story that accompanies the picture, as these moments can provide inspiration to others! As always, the best method is to post them in our forum or email me them directly to me at
 Parting Shots

The National Association of Biology Teachers held their annual conference in Denver, CO earlier this month. This Waystation Network poster was part of the conference. Thanks to all of you who submitted photos! Since this was geared towards secondary schools, these were the photos I selected. Click on the image above to see it in a larger format.

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Thank you all for everything you do!
Your energy truly makes this world a better place:)
Copyright © 2016 Monarch Waystation Network, All rights reserved.

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