From lobbying to growing milkweed, Girl Scouts are learning how to help monarchs. In 2017, two sixth grade members of the Pleasant Plains troop successfully lobbied their senators to co-sponsor a bill designating milkweed as the state wildflower. In 2019, a troop of mostly second grade scouts in Westmont learned how to grow milkweed and supported the work of DuPage Monarch Project with a $100 donation.
The girls make a charitable donation each year from the money earned by selling cookies. “One of the major themes taught through the Girl Scouts’ program is helping others,” said Sarah Plotnick-Anderson, one of the troops co-leaders. “It’s part of the Girl Scout law which the girls recite at every meeting.” Past recipients have included the West Suburban Humane Society and Cosley Zoo.
Co-leaders Jenny Shirley and Sarah Plotnick-Anderson offered the girls three organizations to choose from this year, Special Olympics, DuPage Monarch Project, and World Relief DuPage.
When asked why she voted to help monarchs, Aelyn replied, “They’re pretty and I like all creatures. They deserve a life just like everyone. Also, monarchs are my favorite bug.”
Raeleigh added, “Butterflies are pretty and I don’t want them to be extinct. They help pollinate flowers and plants too so if they are gone then we might not have food from these plants to eat.”
DuPage Monarch Project (DMP) was included in the mix because the leaders were looking for a conservation project that would be easy for the girls to replicate at home combined with an educational workshop on butterfly habitats.
At a meeting in May, DMP board member Connie Schmidt talked about the monarch’s life cycle, habitat requirements and demonstrated how to plant milkweed and nectar plant seeds. Each scout took home an egg carton planted with seeds to nurture until they’re ready for transplanting outside, which will be just in time for hungry caterpillars and butterflies.