From Classroom to Conservation: Embarking on a Monarch Research Journey at Dinosaur National Monument


Last Thursday was my last official day of being a 5th-grade Science and Social Studies teacher. A couple of months ago I found myself standing at a crossroads: Continue on in education or pursue a passion in conservation and research. After much deliberation with everyone I know, the choice was clear and I found myself ready to bid farewell to the classroom and embrace a new adventure as a resource monitoring and communications LHIP intern at Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, Utah. This blog post is a reflection of my journey, the reasons behind my decision, and the excitement that comes with pursuing a passion for conservation in one of nature’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.

Embracing the Call for Conservation:

As an educator, I was fortunate to witness firsthand the wonder and curiosity that nature instills in young minds. Teachers have a way of showing you the world from within four walls and I never thought that as much as I made the world a little bigger for my students that I would do that for myself. I was reminded of my purpose and this reawakened a deep passion within me to continue in my journey that never truly left — the preservation of our natural world. The opportunity to work as a resource monitoring and communications intern at Dinosaur National Monument presented an avenue to pursue this passion while making a tangible impact on the environment.

The Allure of Dinosaur National Monument:

Dinosaur National Monument is a place of unparalleled beauty, where ancient history and stunning landscapes converge. This protected area, spanning parts of Utah and Colorado, not only preserves incredible dinosaur fossils, but also boasts diverse ecosystems that support a rich array of plant and animal life. Among the many organisms that thrive here, pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of this ecosystem.

Pollinator Research: A Key to Environmental Conservation

Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, are essential for the reproduction and survival of countless plant species. However, these vital creatures face numerous challenges, such as habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and climate change. Through my new role as a resource management intern, I am determined to contribute to the understanding and conservation of these remarkable species.

The Impact of Monarch Research:

My time in Utah will be spent focusing primarily on the monarch butterfly. Growing up, the Monarch held deep cultural significance for me as the annual migration of these butterflies to Mexico’s forests symbolized the return of my ancestors to home and served as a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness between me, nature, and my culture.

Studying pollinators such as the Monarch provides valuable insights into their behavior, distribution, and the factors influencing their populations. By gathering data and conducting research, we can better understand the threats they face and develop strategies to protect and enhance their habitats. This work not only benefits the pollinators themselves, but also has far-reaching implications for the broader ecosystem, including plant diversity and food production. 

The Journey Ahead:

Leaving teaching behind was undoubtedly a difficult decision, but the call to contribute to the preservation of our natural heritage was too strong to ignore. The prospect of working alongside dedicated researchers, exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Dinosaur National Monument, and contributing to the conservation of pollinators fills me with excitement and purpose.

Life’s journey is unpredictable, and it is often in our willingness to embrace new opportunities that we find our true calling. My transition from the classroom to becoming a resource monitoring and communications intern at Dinosaur National Monument represents a profound shift in my path, but one that aligns with my passion for conservation and environmental stewardship. As I embark on this new chapter, I am eager to contribute to the understanding and preservation of pollinators and to inspire others to appreciate and protect the natural wonders that surround us.

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