Agents of Change
Themes: Environmental and climate (in)justice, monarch & conservation knowledge, and individual and collective assets.
monarch concerns Heading link
Common Monarch Concerns
In recent years, the southern migration of monarchs from North America has been delayed by as much as six weeks because of the warmer than normal temperatures. When the temperature begins to cool, it triggers the butterflies instinct to move south. Extreme weather events, like severe storms, can kill a large amount of overwintering monarchs in Mexico. In 2002, a severe storm killed around 80% of this population, a hit from which the species is still recovering. Hotter and drier weather can also negatively affect the larval stage of monarch development.
Climate change also impacts the plants and environments that the monarch depends on. The rising levels of carbon dioxide from car and factory exhaust has been linked to reducing the medicinal qualities of milkweed. Moreover, milkweed habitat loss has partially been from climate change, and climate models predict that the overwintering forests in Mexico may soon be no longer suitable for overwintering. The forests could be exposed to higher stress from heat and drought, which makes them more susceptible to insects and disease.
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For this hands-on activity, participants get hands on experience and education around creating seed bombs. By combining clay, water, and soil to create seeds bombs, students are informed about how the seeds themselves can promote monarch butterfly habitats via guerrilla gardening. We make use of a sugar skull mold, to highlight the cultural connection and stories of Día de los Muertos with migration and the journey of the monarchs. However, students are encouraged to get creative as they shape and create their seed bombs. While not every seed bomb will result in a successful plant, some will survive as mature plants via this inexpensive activity.
The example shown on the left is of a sugar skull mold used for Dia de Muertos. Encourage students to shape their seed bombs into a shape that reminds them of monarchs and/or something that reminds them of their cultural heritage.
- Air-Dry Clay
- Seeds (milkweed variety)
- Potting Soil (any type)
- Molds for Clay *optional.
- Pinch off a small piece of air dry clay – enough to shape into a 1-1.5” ball. Shape the clay into a small bowl. If using a mold, place the clay piece into the mold, leaving space for the seeds/soil mixture.
- In a bowl, combine your seeds and natural soil.
- Place a pinch of the seed/soil mixture into the clay bowl/mold. Use water to pinch the seed bomb closed.
- Allow the seed bombs to dry for 24 hours.
- Plant your seeds bombs by placing them around your neighborhood and watch your own milkweed garden grow!
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As the Monarch Butterfly Guide & Kit provides extensive information and content to learn from and utilize, educators are encouraged to use the kit to generate activities that can help further conversation and knowledge on conservation, monarchs and milkweeds, and/or climate change in your classroom.
asset mapping activity Heading link
Cultural and social backgrounds play a big role in shaping attitudes and beliefs about climate change, nature, and the environment. Be aware that “climate change” might be a challenging concept for some audiences. With any audience this activity can be a learning opportunity to gauge prior knowledge and build understanding together. During this activity, emphasize how different skills/assets can complement each other when considering local, attainable action steps and remind students that they have agency when responding to the collective challenges we face.