dupage monarch project: communities protecting pollinators

A collaboration of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage, River Prairie Group, The Conservation Foundation & Wild Ones DuPage


DuPage Monarch Project offers free presentations though donations are greatly appreciated.

Contact Lonnie Morris, DuPage Monarch Project Coordinator to learn more about  scheduling a presentation.    (630) 917-3982   or  dupagemonarchs@gmail.com

DuPage Monarch Project:  Local Solutions for Monarch Recovery

This 45 minute presentation reviews monarch population decline and offers ways of being part of the regional, state and local conservation efforts.

When Karen Oberhauser,, Director of the University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum and Chair of Monarch Joint Venture was asked why we should care about monarch butterflies, she answered that while they’re not a keystone species or  significant pollinator; they are an iconic species, beloved by many.  The connections they offer with nature create a vast audience of people who care about them and the environment.

DuPage Monarch Project recognizes the widespread interest in and concern about monarch decline and has created an organization for helping people be part of the conservation effort.

With a few simple additions, one garden makes a difference and a community of gardens adds up to a solution.


Lonnie Morris began as an environmental activist with her hands in the dirt working to restore prairie in a neighborhood park.  It was blissful work, but the bigger picture impinged on the bucolic days collecting seed and pulling weeds.  Climate change threatens everything so she cleaned up, put away her overalls and embarked on a decade of persuading mayors of the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency.

The grim news of monarch butterfly decline in 2014 coincided with a shift in Lonnie’s personal circumstances, creating an opportunity for involvement with the DuPage Monarch Project.

Lonnie has been the DuPage Monarch Project’s coordinator for the past four years and finds it’s the perfect combination of spending time among native plants and butterflies and in the offices of local officials lobbying for what they can do to protect monarchs.

Connie Schmidt is a lifelong Chicago area native.  Growing up in Riverside and now living in Warrenville, she remembers the monarchs fondly from childhood as they danced across the backyard flowers. Now living in Warrenville, she has a native front yard garden and large horse pasture where she hopes to see just a few monarchs perching on her native plantings. As a 30 year Sierra Club member and leader in the organization, protection of native lands and species is one of her priorities.

Connie is the River Prairie Group Sierra Club representative to the DuPage Monarch Project.

Creating an Eco-friendly Yard  

Yards can be transformed into small nature areas with the use of native plants.  A healthy, sustainable yard will attract birds and butterflies with three seasons of blooming nectar plants and a variety of host plants, like milkweed, that provide food for caterpillars. Good design and plant selection will produce an ornamental garden for you and habitat for pollinators and birds.

Jim Kleinwachter offers site visits for garden consultations.

Jim Kleinwachter has worked for The Conservation Foundation since 2004 and became TCF’s representative to the DuPage Monarch Project in 2015. After joining The Conservation Foundation, Jim quickly realized that a connection to homeowners and business owners was essential to improvement of the environment in our heavily developed territory.  The Conservation@Home and Conservation@Work programs were developed to educate and help people in their quest to do things more eco-friendly.  He now runs those programs and the highly successful rain barrel program.

The Magic of Monarchs

Kim White, DuPage Monarch Project Educator offers programs on the monarch life cycle tailored to K-12 students and adult audiences. Her lively presentations may include microscopic images of monarch scales, monarch caterpillars, age appropriate books and activities demonstrating life cycle stages. Local conservation efforts and projects are included in programs for adult audiences.

Kim White taught for 20 years in the Education program at Brookfield Zoo, just outside of Chicago, then I decided it was time to make sure her grandchildren grew up knowing about the natural world around us. Holding a University level Master Naturalist certificate, she decided it was also time to teach as many children as she could to know and respect the world around them. Teaching children has always been a passion of hers and she looks forward to helping spark their interest in nature by introducing them to the magic of monarch butterflies.

What’s all the Flutter? Understanding Monarch Butterflies

In this program, participants will explore:

  • Why monarchs are in decline
  • Why care about monarchs
  • The monarch lifecycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly
  • Milkweed as the monarch’s host plant
  • Monarch predators
  • Monarch defense
  • Fall migration
  • Seasonal and cultural significance in Mexico
  • Wintering in Mexico
  • Spring migration
  • Tagging monarchs
  • How to help: planting milkweed and nectar plants
  • Resources

Jill Spealman After 33 years in IT training, Jill Spealman’s new mission is to connect people to nature. A Forest Preserve District of DuPage County volunteer since 2013, Jill has developed many new nature programs at St. James Farm in Warrenville. She got hooked on monarchs on June 12, 2018: “For years I grew milkweed in my yard, but never saw any monarchs. One evening after work I was watering plants and I noticed a large monarch caterpillar on my butterfly milkweed plant. Dinner was late that night because a few minutes later I was reading how fewer than 2% of monarch caterpillars survive to become butterflies. I read how monarchs are in decline due to habitat loss and from that point on I knew I had to take action to help.” Jill’s early background as a K-12 public school teacher has come in handy in her nature programs. She is a Morton Arboretum certified naturalist and a National Association for Interpretation Certified Interpretive Guide

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