Monarch Watch founder receives Growing Green Award

Posted on May 14, 2014 in Campus News and News

Orley “Chip” Taylor, KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of Monarch Watch, the monarch butterfly conservation, education and research organization headquartered on West Campus, is one of four winners of the 2014 Growing Green Awards, presented May 14 in San Francisco.

Sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the awards recognize individuals in four categories. Taylor is being honored as a Pollinator Protector for his role at Monarch Watch, which he founded at KU in 1992 as a tagging program that enlisted hundreds of citizen scientists to track the butterfly’s epic migration each fall from Canada to Mexico. Monarch populations have dropped 90 percent since then, and in 2005 Monarch Watch began distributing milkweed—the only plant on which monarch larvae feed—to schools, nonprofit groups and gardeners in a bid to help stem the milkweed decline, which Taylor attributes to intensive farming practices like increased tilling and chemical weed control. Monarch Watch also started a Monarch Waystation program, which encourages people to add milkweed and nectar plants to their gardens. “It’s been a moderately successful program,” Taylor says. “We have something like 7,600 registered sites across the country, but we need about 7 million. So we need all those gardeners out there to join us in the fight to save this monarch migration.”

The Growing Green Award “allows us to have a program where we can advertise that we will distribute free milkweed flats to something like 180 different schools and nonprofits,” Taylor says in a video profile on the NRDC website. “We’re halfway there and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”

—Steven Hill

To view the video and read Taylor’s blog post, click here.

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Butterfly Effect

Posted on Dec 6, 2013 in Campus News and News

“Moving for Monarchs,“ the dance, film and photography project that visited KU in June to work with Monarch Watch program director Orley “Chip” Taylor on a campaign to raise awareness about the butterflies, plans to release its first short film, “First Flight,” on Jan. 1. The movie includes footage and photography shot at Monarch Watch’s West Campus butterfly garden and on the Konza Prairie south of Manhattan.

As reported by Kansas Alumni in September, project director Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch, a New York City ballerina and actress, hopes the “Moving for Monarchs” campaign inspires people to heed Taylor’s call to make the planting of milkweed and nectar plants that sustain monarchs a national priority. Taylor, KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and longtime director of Monarch Watch, has warned that monarch populations are declining due to loss of habitat. Recent statistics suggest the North American population declined by 59 percent from 2012 to 2013, to some of the lowest levels ever recorded.

In addition to the film release, “Moving for Monarchs” plans a dance concert series and grassroots “plant n’ dance” community events that urge people to participate in the Monarch Waystations program (which promotes the planting of milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants in backyard gardens) administered by Monarch Watch.

For a sneak peek at the film, check out Moving for Monarchs Kickstarter campaign or Facebook page.

–Steven Hill

Moving Monarchs |

Photo by Gabriella Garcia-Pardo for Moving for Monarchs

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