Master Gardeners Publish Book To Help Save Pollinators

Nancy Crews and Nancy Scott are taking a proactive approach in promoting a cause near and dear to their hearts – saving the pollinators.

The two Master Gardeners have published a book – Saving The Monarchs – that explains the plight of pollinators, like monarch butterflies, that have significantly declined in population over the past 25 years, and why it’s important to restore habitat.

The book shares information and photos about the work local Master Gardeners, conversations employees and school children are doing to add and protect pollinator habitat. The idea for the book came after Crews and Scott traveled to Mexico for the first time to see the winter home of millions of monarchs that migrate to the country from Canada and the United States each winter.  During one of their initial visits to Mexico, they visited a local school and talked to the children about the butterflies  and other pollinators and their importance to agriculture and food production. 

The school visit initiated an exchange between Mexican children and a classroom of second graders at Northeast Elementary School.

Prior to their first visit to the school, the Northeast students provided a list of questions to take to the students in Mexican.  Children at both schools were introduced to a game called “Monarch Jeopardy” to help them learn more about pollinators.

The school exchanged inspired the idea for the book, Crews said.

The second year, we wanted to do something special,” she said. “We wanted to write a book to tell the story and to educate them and to talk about the two communities and what kids can do to help save the monarchs. The book is bilingual and it has pictures of our kids (Northeast) and their kids (Mexico).

“It tells the story of the monarchs and why they’re threatened and encourages children to help.”
The book includes dozens of photographs, including shots of Glenwood-area children collecting milkweed and nectar flower seed and making “seedballs” from soil and clay.

The book also addresses the importance of trees and the oyamal fir forests in Mexico. There are photographs of Mexican children planting trees to help restore the forests.

The last page of the book states, “This book celebrates ‘Butterflies And Their People’ and all who protect butterflies.”
The book is just one of many initiatives Crews and Master Gardeners have been a part of over the past years. One of their first endeavors was a partnership with RAGBRAI, which involved making seedballs and distributing them to bicyclists who dropped them in roadside ditches along the route of the bicycle ride across Iowa.

“RAGBRAI started in Glenwood that first year,” Crews said. “That gave us a wonderful opportunity to do all kinds of outreach in the community with different groups to make the seedballs. That first year, we made about 6,000 – garden clubs, youth groups, school groups, Master Gardeners. We had a training session at First Congregational Church.”

Crews and Scott are promoting the planting of pollinator gardens and speaking to youth groups, civic organizations and lectures at the Pony Creek Nature Center about the importance of the issue.

“The monarch is basically a flagship species,” Scott said. “Pollinators all over the world are disappearing.”
She added that the decline in pollinators began about 22 years ago, which coincides with the use of Round-up ready crops being planted in farm fields.

“A lot of people don’t want to admit it and farmers don’t want milkweed in their fields,” she said. “But, at least a third, or some will say half of our food requires pollinators.”

Crews and Scott published the book on their own with proceeds going to the protection of forest land in Mexico through a non-profit organization called Butterflies and Their People.

To purchase a book or learn more about the efforts of Crews and Scott, call 402-312-6295 or e-mail crews.nancy@gmail.com.

 

The Opinion-Tribune

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