A Community of Monarchists

My long-term career goal is to become an interpretive Park Ranger for the National Park Service! My passion for science education stems from my desire to explore the great outdoors. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and learning from other curious people, regardless of the topic. Earlier in the summer, I shared my goals and thoughts with my supervisors, Sonya and Emily, and they encouraged me to develop and present interpretive programs for our guest visitors.

On August 13th, Dinosaur National Monument hosted its annual monarch public tagging event at Josie Morriss’ Cabin. This area within the National Monument is a monarch hotspot because it contains two species of their host plant, Showy and Swamp milkweed. Also, there is an abundance of nectar plants for monarchs that serve as their food source. We spent our early morning catching and placing monarchs inside a butterfly pop-up cage. Around 8 a.m., Cassandra Cavezza, fellow LHIP intern, Victor Garcia-Balderas, Bureau of Land Management intern, and I returned to our table to greet the visitors. We showed the tagging process step-by-step and allowed the visitors to release the monarchs. My favorite part was watching the little junior rangers smile as the monarchs flew to their next destination! In total, we had a busy program with 108 guests and 27 tagged monarchs.

Later in the month, I held an evening ranger program at the Green River Campground. Although we did not have an active tagging event, we discussed three important monarch butterfly topics: the life cycle, annual migration, and the current population status. To help explain these topics, my supervisors had a box full of monarch cut-out props that they allowed me to use! Similar to this evening program, we also invited 50 curious eighth graders from the Terra Academy of Vernal for an interactive educational lesson. After the program, the eighth graders were able to explore the Weber Sandstone and look for monarch eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises along the Box Canyon trail.

I enjoyed hosting these educational programs for the public! It reinforced my desire to pursue a career in education. And who knows, I might have met a future monarch scientist!

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