Education and Outreach

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We support environmental education programs that lead to a greater understanding, appreciation, and support of the challenge of monarch conservation. Our programs focus on engaging communities in conservation by providing training as eco-tour guides and in reforestation activities. Eco-tourism workshops combine indoor presentations and hands-on activities with outdoor field work to raise awareness about the importance of conserving the monarch overwintering sites. Participants learn basic monarch biology, including information on the part of the monarch life cycle that occurs in the United States and Canada, as well as skills that will help them become tour-guides and engage in monitoring activities.

Education and Outreach 2016-2017

Documentation Center

As part of the Monarch Network (Red Monarca), MBF started funding the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) geared towards creating a tool to help plan, analyze and communicate all the activities undertaken by the NGOs that are part of the Monarch Network. Led by Colectividad Razonatura, A.C.,  the project evolved into the creation of a Documentation Center in the Monarch Butterfly Area that organizes information on different topics pertaining Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) in a data base. This digital platform organizes, classifies and makes available to the interested public and society in general, information related to the MBBR area. The portal is also available in English and users can search information by different criteria, such as title, author(s), year and type of publication, thematic area classified by activities in the MBBR, general topic, key words, among others.

Field Guide Workshops

On December14 of last year, MBF Consultant Ek del Val de Gortari, along with herpetologist, Jonatan Torres were in El Rosario, to carry out the second workshop for tourist guides. Ek and Jonatan invited 30 people from the community involved in the sanctuary and those responsible for the horses that take tourists. They both explained that the purpose of the field guides is to learn about the immense biodiversity in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and share it with visitors.

The tour guides looked for the species they knew and recognized them. They were interested in the amphibian and reptile guides since there are a lot of myths and beliefs around them and they were surprised to discover that most snakes in the Reserve are not poisonous and that the fake scorpion (Barisia imbricata) is also harmless. Jonatan talked with the personnel, answering all their questions, and pointing out the characteristic features of each group of species

Next on the MBF Agenda is to translate the guides into English for foreign visitors!


Biology and Conservation Workshops

During the 2016-2017 overwintering season, Eneida Montesinos, along with Eco Monarca and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) México held workshops on the biology and conservation of overwintering monarch and their habitat in México in five local communities. A total of 189 men and 105 women employed as tour guides participated in the workshops. Topics included monarch biology, migration and overwintering as well as conservation issues. Participants engaged in different games, activities and role-playing and made monarch handicrafts, migration maps and presentations. The tour guides received a booklet with information of the topics covered in the workshops to be able to use them as a reference during the tours.

Additionally, 485 students from six local elementary and high schools participated in the Third Monarch Butterfly Environmental Education Festival. The festival included conferences and workshops about the monarch butterfly and the environment in general and cultural activities organized by several local educational institutions.


Education and Outreach 2016

Field Guide Workshops

Field Guide Workshop participants
Field Guide Workshop participants

Dr. Ek del Val de Gortari, MBF adviser, and her colleagues completed field guides for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The guides will provide information to help visitors identify the most common species of butterfliesplants, birdsmammalsamphibians and reptiles in the region (click on each category to see the guides). Felipe Martinez, Director of the MBBR, Ek and plant experts, Dr. Guillermo Ibarra, and M.S. Guadalupe Cornejo, as well as reptile expert, Biol. Jonatan Torres, visited the El Rosario community to lead a workshop on how to best use the field guides. El Rosario has one of the largest butterfly colonies so naturally, the team started there. A total of 20 community members, including 4 tourist guides attended the workshop which involved a walk through the forest where participants identified plants and butterflies using the field guides. Ek and her colleagues distributed 2,500 guides (500 of each category: butterflies, plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians). The workshops will continue until the end of the month and English versions of the guides are planned for 2017. MBF is proud to be part of this outreach effort that will help share knowledge and information with local communities and visitors to the Reserve. Ek will work on the English versions in 2017.

Mural in Donaciano Ojeda Indigenous Community

Last year, the Mazahua Indigenous Community of Donaciano Ojeda approached MBF and asked for support for a community-building project that involved painting a mural in the communal house they all share. The goal was to paint a mural that shows the relationship of the community to the forest and the monarch butterfly. The community owns almost 700 hectares in the core zone and 1,300 in the buffer zone. Before starting the mural, the community gathered and discussed their accomplishments and what they wanted to include in the mural. Among the most relevant accomplishments include no illegal logging for 18 to 20 years, maintaining 80% of their forest cover in 600 hectares of the core zone and the ability to conserve water wisely making it available to the entire community. The community discussed their history and identified important places and things to include in the mural such as the primary mountain ranges and watersheds, the main church, wildlife (coyotes, deer, rabbits, and squirrels), their traditional attire among others. Monarchs are not only beautiful but they serve to unite communities in common projects that bring joy and happiness to all!

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Finished mural and close up with MBF’s Logo

Poster explaining the Monarch Fund
Poster explaining the Monarch Fund

Monarch Fund Brochures

MBF supported the Monarch Fund in their efforts to inform landowners about the benefits provided by the Fund and coming from the National Forest Commission. Communities signed agreements with both organizations to conserve their forests and will get payments for the environmental services their forests provide. The agreements only apply to the forests within the core zone and payments are given to communities that maintain a conserved core zone. The health of the of the forest cover is determined by the yearly monitoring performed by WWF.

As part of the Monarch Network, a collaboration of several NGOs working in and near the monarch wintering sites, MBF funded the creation of the “Online Monarch Network Documentation Center” which aims to compile all the available information about monarch butterflies and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and make it accessible to the general public. For the past year, Colectividad Razonatura, also a member of the Monarch Network, contacted Mexican and international non-profit organizations, academics, and government authorities to obtain the information and worked to organize, classify and upload it on a searchable data base. The beta version is available here.

Brochures explaining Monarch Fund
Brochures explaining Monarch Fund

Outreach and Education 2015

Dr. Ek Del Val Gortari, MBF adviser and her colleagues, are developing field guides for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to provide information that will help visitors identify the most common species of butterflies, plants, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. They are developing a brochure for each group with illustrations or photographs, including basic information about the habitats of the different species. The end product will be laminated field guides of the different groups of species which will be useful to promote knowledge of local biodiversity beyond the monarch butterfly and consequently promote forest conservation. The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) is also providing information and will make reprints available when they are required. Once the guides are completed, Ek and her colleagues will hold workshops with forest rangers and tourist guides in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

Amphibian and Reptiles Field Guide
Amphibian and Reptiles Field Guide

As part of the “Red Monarca” (Monarch Network), MBF is pleased to support Fundación Razonatura in their proposal to “Develop an Online Documentation Center of the Monarch Butterfly Region.” This project will develop a digital platform to organize and classify information related to the MBBR and make it accessible to interested parties and society as a whole. Their goal is to have a documentation center hosted in the Monarch Network’s’ website with searches and bibliography about projects, research and general information about the MBBR. They will compile and classify the information received from different sources that make up the Monarch Network such as academia and non-profits, and institutional public information (CONANP, CONAGUA, CONABIO, etc.), media (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.)

MJV Meeting in Minnesota
MJV Meeting in Minnesota

In November 19-20, 2015, about 50 partner representatives from the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) met in Minnesota to discuss conservation, education, research and monitoring efforts for 2016. One of the main goals of the MJV annual meeting is to capture the expertise of MJV partners and bring them to the meeting by updating the MJV Implementation Plan. This document is derived from the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (CEC, 2008) and guides the actions of the MJV partnership for the upcoming year.

Education and Outreach 2014

Eco-tourism Workshops

Eneida Montesinos, who leads MBF’s eco-tourism workshops, held a 2-day workshop at San Mateo Almomoloa, in the State of Mexico in September 27 and 28. Forty people from the Piedra Herrada Community completed the workshop about monarch biology, migration, conservation, and best practices as tour guides including common English phrases to welcome tourists.  Guest speakers included Eduardo Rendón from WWF Mexico who discussed the decline in last year’s monarch population as well as Rocío Treviño from Correo Real, a citizen science project that monitors the monarch migration in Northern Mexico.


Environmental Education and Monitoring Workshops

This year MBF awarded a grant to Geovida, a local non-profit that carries out workshops in the “Bosque Escuela”  (Forest School) Educational Center located in the Emiliano Zapata Ejido in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve’s buffer zone. During October Geovida held several environmental education workshops and monitoring activities for 60 sixth grade students in the Amado Nervo Elementary School in Ocampo, Michoacán. Collaborating with environmental promoters from local communities and experts, workshops included activities in the school’s classroom as well as in the field.  Among the topics included in the workshops were the UN’s Earth Charter Initiative, caring for the forest and the watersheds and the monarch butterfly’s migratory cycle. Children participated in diverse activities such as listening to lectures, drawing, watching videos, singing Lucas Miller’s (the singing zoologist) “Going Down to Mexico” (Spanish Version), planting medicinal plants, measuring tree diameters, among others. Click here to see photos of all the activities.

Pronatura Noreste begins educational activities in Northern Mexico

With support from MBF and the Government of the State of Tamaulipas and the Urban Development and Environment Ministry of Tamaulipas, Pronatura Noreste, a local non-profit, carried out environmental education activities in four elementary schools in Jaumave (part of the monarch’s migratory route) during February-June, 2014.  One thousand drawing booklets, a puzzle about the monarch butterfly’s life cycle and 500 posters describing different phases of the monarch’s life-cycle, their migration, the threats they face and recommendations on how to protect them were printed with funds provided by MBF. Personnel from the Ministry gave 44 Power Point presentations about the monarch’s biology, their migratory route and their flight through Jaumave to 1,216 students and 49 teachers carried out different educational activities.  Everyone participated with enthusiasm as we can see in the images below:
Pronatura will repeat this process in 2015 with seven smaller schools with 274 students.


Education and Outreach 2013

In June, 2013 Eneida Montesinos, who leads MBF’s eco-tourism workshops conducted an evaluation of her 2012 workshops described below. She asked participants for their feedback and we are happy to report that the results were very positive.  Participants rated her workshops highly and stated that they learned a lot of information that they will be able to share with tourists and other members of their communities.  Participants’ favorite activities were the games, learning about monarchs, and interacting with their classmates. We see the same choices in workshops in the U.S.

Education and Outreach 2012

During October and November, 2012 MBF collaborator, Eneida Montesinos held 6 three-day workshops to train eco-tourism guides in 6 communities within the Monarch Butterfly Reserve. As she was concluding her workshops she was approached by the Director of the Reserve who asked her if she was available to give a workshop to schoolchildren as part of the XXI Monarch Butterfly Festival. In collaboration with WWF and the Reserve Eneida gave one workshop which turned out to be a total success. Excited kids and teachers requested more workshops and Eneida ended up giving 6 additional workshops with a total participation of 950 kids! Even moms got excited and fifteen of them attended the workshop at Senguio. The smallest workshop had 80 kids and the largest one 250, averaging around 150 per workshop. This was an exciting twist of events which allowed Eneida to expand her workshops to schoolchildren! Lots of the material she uses to train guides in monarch biology was easily accessible to children.

MBF is excited to support these workshops which are not only engaging kids, school teachers and moms but are strengthening our relationships with WWF, the Reserve and the local communities.

In addition to the eco-tourism and children’s workshops, MBF funded and participated in a workshop with members of four indigenous communities held on June 24, 2012, at Alternare’s Training Center. This workshop was geared to prepare communities for the 2012 reforestation season and was a result of a collaborative effort between MBF, Alternare, CIGA (UNAM’s Center for Environmental Geography Research Center), CIECO (UNAM´s Center for Ecosystems Research), and volunteers from HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) bank. MBF’s forestry advisor, Dr. Diego Pérez-Salicrup, conducted the workshop with help from our team member, Dr. Pablo Jaramillo.

Community members were divided into three working groups that were chaired by the HSBC volunteers. Each group was able to identify specific issues they wanted to address guided by topics suggested by Dr. Pérez-Salicrup. Workshop participants have carried out reforestation projects in the past and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience generated lively and informed discussions.

Discussions focused on three main topics:

  1. Why reforest?
  2. Challenges of reforestation planning, and
  3. Measuring seedlings.

The three groups had different motivations to reforest. One group explained that they use pine from the buffer zones to build houses and firewood, selling the remainder as railroad ties. They reforest former agricultural areas to harvest trees. Another group was concerned about increasing and securing their water resources for themselves and future generations. Traditionally, reforestation projects have been carried out in agricultural areas, but thanks to the workshop, community members realized the potential of these areas for forest recovery which could offer long-term financial benefits aimed at improvement of their short- and mid-term livelihoods.

The workshop ended with training on the appropriate techniques to measure seedlings. Participants measured seedlings from four different species, reported their results, and entered their findings into a computer program that allowed them to visualize the data graphically. They learned the importance of accurate measurements, and are now able to determine annual growth and survival rates of trees that they plant.

The workshop increased awareness among participants and improved their reforestation skills, but most importantly it corroborated MBF’s belief in the strength of sharing knowledge and collaborating with local people, academics, volunteers and organizations. Community members and academics speak the same jargon now and everyone understands what is meant by environmental services, watershed management, forest management and sustainability. These collaborations also break barriers between “city-folk” and “country-folk”, as we witnessed with the HSBC volunteers from Mexico City. The campesinos and the bank volunteers are now aware that keeping the forest ecosystem healthy is beneficial for everyone, not just people living in the countryside.

Education and Outreach 2011

During November 2011 MBF conducted six separate three-day workshops in the states of México and Michoacán. Each workshop was tailored to the needs of a specific community, or Ejido, and for the most part, held in the community to make it easier for people to attend. A total of 139 men and women participated in the November workshops.
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Education and Outreach 2010

We conducted 5 workshops to train tourist guides and also developed an environmental education program for schools in Mexico.

Education and Outreach, How We Started…

In a project partially funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we established a collaboration with Mexican scientists and educators to develop an environmental education program appropriate for use in schools attended by the families in and near the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The program includes materials written in Spanish, included a book of monarch-related curriculum lessons, a book on monarch biology, and laminated cards illustrating the monarch’s annual migratory cycle.

We conducted five educational workshops for tourist guides from communities near the Sierra Chincua, Cerro Pelón, Herrada, Rosario and Popocatepetl monarch colonies in 2006-2009. This cooperative effort included WWF-Mexico, Biocenosis, UNAM, Profauna, Ecosport Mexico and the University of Minnesota.