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0 Shared Link | "Save Our Monarchs Mexico Conservation Partnership" | Shared in the WWN by Tom Ross

School Children of Small Mexican Village Team with Conservationists in US and Canada to Protect Monarch Butterfly Habitat

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Save Our Monarchs, a foundation dedicated to reversing the conditions which have caused rapid declining of the Monarch Butterfly through public education and creative distribution of milkweed seeds, has teamed with Carol "The Monarch Crusader" Pasternak of Toronto, Ontario to enlist the residents of Macheros, Mexico in protecting critical butterfly preserves nearby their village.

"MexiRocks" was originally Pasternak’s initiative. Last February she embarked on a project to engage the school children of Macheros in promoting habitat protection by colorfully painting small rocks to be sold as souvenirs to tourists visiting the nearby Cerro Pelon Reserve, a vitally important monarch butterfly winter sanctuary. Each year these insects make a truly incredible journey across North America, marshalling in the fall at such spots as Point Pelee on the Ontario side of Lake Erie, and ride the air currents to winter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Michoacán, only about 2 hours from Mexico City. Along the way the butterflies endure hazards both of nature and man-made. Their numbers have dwindled significantly over the past decade. There are several important contributing factors including diminishing pollinator friendly environments in the US and Canada, and illegal logging in the forests of the reserve. Carol was eager to help stem the latter through local job creation, not an easy task in a remote village with a population of 400 people and 100 horses. She learned that tourists heading to Cerro Pelon lament the lack of locally produced keepsakes they could purchase to commemorate the trip. Conversations with local teachers ensued and MexiRocks was born. Carol supplied teachers and parents with the much needed acrylic paints and materials, and led two workshops where she taught everyone to paint rocks. Art class with a purpose!

The painted rocks became an instant hit among tourists but that season is short. The butterflies begin the journey north in early March and of course the butterfly enthusiasts who visit Cerro Pelon are a small representation of the millions of folks across three countries that hold the Monarchs dear. Fortunately, Save Our Monarchs Foundation (SOM) representatives had contacted Pasternak before the first rock was painted, offering to sell the rocks on their website year round. Ward Johnson SOM Founder and Co-Chair, "While we had distributed millions of milkweed seed packets and been involved in education and habitat restoration, we didn’t have any projects in Mexico. I saw this partnering as a good fit to extend our efforts into saving the monarch’s overwintering grounds."

Says Pasternak,"MexiRocks achieves several important outcomes. The sale of the rocks alleviates the poverty which drives people to illegally harvest the trees the monarchs depend on. The painting of the rocks brings art supplies, a previously unaffordable luxury, to the community. In addition to creating true artists, the project serves as a vehicle to teach business skills, improve school conditions, further education, and provide joy in both the classroom and the community. Finally, Monarch fans around the globe can participate in saving the forests, and display a gorgeous rock as a conservation reminder to them and their friends."

Ward Johnson adds, "The Save Our Monarchs Foundation represents thousands of average folks who have found a vehicle to protect and expand butterfly habitat as well as educate the general public regarding the dangers facing monarchs and other pollinators vital to our ecosystem. MexiRocks is a unique opportunity to further our mission and contribute to the economic wellbeing of the people of Macheros."

Save Our Monarchs is a registered 501 (c) 3 organization. Find them at http://www.saveourmonarchs.org or on Facebook.
Carol Pasternak aka the “Monarch Crusader” is the author of How to Raise Monarch Butterflies, A Step by Step Guide for Kids. The Monarch Crusader http://www.facebook.com/monarchcrusader?ref=hl.

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