Collaborating for Change: Charleston, the “Butterfly Capital” of Illinois
In just over a year, the city has been named a Monarch Champion, signifying their commitment to protect and conserve habitat for the monarch butterfly. This achievement is the product of their remarkable dedication to monarch conservation, and they now join seven other North American cities that have fully completed all 24 actions of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge.
This accomplishment was made possible through the efforts of the City of Charleston and Paul Switzer, a biology professor at Eastern Illinois University and founder of the Urban Butterfly Initiative in Charleston. Paul Switzer shares the unique and collaborative efforts in his community in the short video above. Due to their leadership and dedication, the Urban Butterfly Initiative named Charleston the “Butterfly Capital”, of Illinois.
Charleston pursued partnerships with schools and libraries which allowed them to mobilize the entire community to be champions for the monarch butterfly. They collaborated with the Coles County Health Department to install a monarch demonstration garden at the department’s community garden. This garden serves as a reminder that the health and wellness of the community can be improved by the presence of parks, gardens, and other public green spaces that support local native plants and wildlife.
The Prairie Rivers Network, the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate partner in Illinois, has been integral in building the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge network across the state. Since 1967, the nonprofit has been organizing to protect the natural rivers and wildlife in Illinois.
The National Wildlife Federation and Prairie Rivers Network commend Charleston for focusing their efforts on building connections with critical organizations like health departments. Their success showcases that partnerships provide leverage to increase the influence and long term impact of monarch conservation.