In response to declining monarch butterfly populations the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) has made it a priority to participate in the Monarch Joint Venture to conserve monarch butterfly habitat along this migratory species 3,000 mile migration route. Last year hundreds of milkweed pods were collected and distributed around the hatchery’s 75 acres of suitable habitat providing an even greater amount of seeds to collect this fall. Numerous adult monarchs and caterpillars were observed around the hatchery this summer all over on the planted milkweed. This fall staff at the Genoa NFH was at it again collecting milkweed seeds and nearly doubled last year’s take. In total roughly 10 gallons of milkweed seeds were collected and cleaned to be planted again at the hatchery. Not all of the seeds collected will be planted directly on station however. The hatchery has also taken steps to engage others in monarch conservation including area schools. Monarch seeds will be given to participating outdoor classroom program partners to plant and grow in the classroom so that when spring arrives they can plant their crops of milkweed.
Genoa NFH's Milkweed Collection. Credit: USFWS
Teachers in these classrooms are incorporating monarch butterfly life cycle and restoration lessons in their science curricula with the help of Genoa NFH staff. Students are being taught about milkweed restoration and the importance of the monarch’s host species milkweed in the Midwest for butterfly migration.