In April as part of Earth Month festivities, students in Beye School’s Green Club and Beye Discovery (the after-school enrichment program of the Beye PTO) collaborated with West Cook Wild Ones and local artists to create an art piece, designed to educate viewers about the Monarch butterfly and encourage Monarch conservation. The panels are hung in Whole Foods Market’s café in River Forest.

The art installation features four canvas panels with collaged, reused materials. The first panel illustrates the need for milkweed, as it is the only type of plant Monarch caterpillars will eat. Many pollinators will drink from the flowers of a milkweed plant. 

The second panel features the Monarch life cycle, and the third communicates that milkweed and other essential nectar plants need to be planted in our communities at places of business, libraries, schools, homes, and roadsides if we want to sustain the Monarch butterfly. 

The last panel represents the Monarch’s overwintering habitat in Mexico. What is unique about this panel is that Ms. Adkins gave students an opportunity to create their own Monarchs and add them to the art piece. 

Jocelyn Adkins, artist and program director of Beye Discovery, conceived many of the overarching ideas and design of the artwork. Contributing artists were Jocelyn Adkins, Ally Bernstein, Jason Patenaude, Stephanie Walquist (of West Cook Wild Ones), and the students in Beye’s Green Club (led by Ms. Amy Baker) and Beye Discovery. 

We would like to thank Whole Foods Market for allowing us this opportunity to communicate the need for Monarch conservation. Scientists are only able to estimate the Monarch’s population when they overwinter in their habitat in Mexico. This past year’s numbers were critically low, showing the need for restoration of Monarch habitats, which will benefit other beneficial wildlife too. 

This past week, the White House announced an initiative to stabilize Monarch populations, and one way is through the engagement of public and private citizens and this local collaboration is a piece of what needs to be a larger effort. 

For more information to learn about Monarch conservation, contact westcook@outlook.com or our website westcook.wildones.org.

West Cook Wild Ones advocates for the use of native plants in our landscapes as they best support biodiversity.

Stephanie Walquist

Vice president, West Cook Wild Ones

Longtime Monarchs gardener 

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