SONOMA, Calif. -- As one of the most recognizable butterflies, the monarch butterfly resonates with many as a symbol of transformation and hope.
Girl Scout Faline Howard's deep admiration for monarch butterflies motivated her to spearhead a movement tackling the monarch's declining population. She does so by utilizing one plant - milkweed.
"We need to protect our pollinators, and it's very important to learn how to do that. So, by planting their plants that they need and what they like, that will help them," explained Howard.
Located at the Sonoma Ecology Center, Howard has been able to plant hundreds of narrowleaf milkweed seeds. Such species of milkweed is native to California, inviting the butterflies migrating from the forests of southwestern Mexico to lay their eggs on the leaves.
Howard has made efforts to transform other landscapes as well. Planting milkweed at golf courses, local schools, and wineries, it is with hope that such efforts will yield higher populations of monarchs.
"There were fewer than one percent of the last count," explained Sonoma Ecology Center volunteer Cindy Lindh. "We're doing all we can to pull out the stops to ensure that we provide some mechanism for their survival."
What once started as Howard's Girl Scout Gold Award has now metamorphosed into a larger project towards the conservation and restoration of monarch butterflies.
"It would be very sad too, because I haven't been able to witness a great monarch migration. But they used to be numbers in the millions and billions and now in 2020, we saw two thousand come down to the California coast," shares Howard. "It's a very large decline, and we're hoping to be able to continue monitoring them and hopefully they'll make a rebound with more conservation efforts put in place."
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