Generations of Environmentalists Protecting the Four Generations of Monarchs

Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is Engaging All Ages in Monarch Habitat Restoration

Habitat Loss and Declining Monarch Populations

Land degradation and climate change are two of the most pressing environmental issues facing communities, ecosystems, and species all around the world. The migratory monarch butterfly is no exception as habitat loss has led to steep reductions in their populations. In the 1980s, scientists observed western migratory monarch populations to be above one million, but according to a 2024 survey from the Xerces Society these numbers have dwindled to less than 250,000. From 2023 to 2024 alone, western populations have declined 30% and eastern populations have declined 50%.

Intergenerational Collaboration on Land Restoration

This year on World Environment Day, the United Nations called on all living generations to come together to restore lands for generations to come. Intergenerational collaboration to create and restore habitat has been a key component of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program since it was introduced in 2015 to encourage communities across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to combat monarch butterfly decline and the pollinator crisis.

Attendees of the 2023 Village of Mamaroneck, NY Monarch Butterfly Festival planting milkweed. Credit: Zachary Ivler; (Instagram: @vomenvironment & Facebook:

Over the course of almost a decade, 1,200+ mayors and leaders of local government have completed the pledge. These communities have created over 11,000 acres of habitat and engaged over 11 million people including more than one million youth.  

Last year alone, 233 communities across the U.S. and Canada completed the pledge and created or restored over 1,200 acres of monarch habitat. Over two million individuals were reached including 434,304 young people. Check out our annual impact reports to learn more about how mayors and local leaders are advancing the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. 

Efforts led by youth and supported by older generations have played a significant role in this success. In the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, an Eagle Scout proposed and carried out a project to create a butterfly weed garden in a public right-of-way. The Village helped by sharing the cost of the plants and providing guidance on installation. The scout plans to eventually display signage to educate the wider community about the importance of projects like this one.

Public Works Staff installing a Monarch Demonstration Garden outside of Village Hall in Wilmette, IL. Credit: Kate McDonnell

Monarch Protection in Youth Programming

Many communities also developed youth-specific programming to engage the next generation in monarch conservation efforts. In Lafayette, Colorado, the Our Nature Kids /Jovenes de Naturaleza program focused on educating young people from underserved communities about monarch protection through paid bilingual internships. High schoolers who participated in the program completed restoration projects, such as plantings, invasive weed removal, and seed dispersal, throughout the community’s open spaces. In 2023, the interns spread five pounds of showy milkweed seed and collected seeds from existing plants. 

Youth spreading milkweed seeds on a vacant lot in Rochester, MI. Credit: Stephanie Burdo-Smith

The Township of King, Ontario, hosted a variety of nature-based activities and camps including the Pollinator Pals program. This program allowed students to learn about monarchs while taking part in activities that support monarch populations, including creating and distributing milkweed seed balls, germinating and planting wildflowers and milkweed, and monitoring monarch sightings.

Pollinator Pals participants from Seneca College planting native wildflowers at Cold Creek Conservation Area in Ontario. Credit: Kathryn McLellan

Finally, the City of McAllen, Texas (World Birding Center, Quinta Mazatlan), and McAllen Independent School District collaborated with students and community members to plant a Tiny Forest at Cathey Middle School. This is one of the newly installed five tiny forests in the city. During the installation event, participants were educated about the species they were planting and the benefits of this project, like generating ecosystem services and providing habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Students at the middle school continue to engage with this project through maintenance days and nature walks. 

Volunteers planting a Tiny Forest at Cathey Middle School in McAllen, TX. Credit: Augustin Villarreal

Habitat creation remains a key priority for the 300+ mayors’ who have taken the pledge for 2024:

  • 196 communities have committed to planting or maintaining a monarch and pollinator-friendly demonstration garden;
  • 184 communities have committed to hosting or supporting a native seed or plant sale, giveaway or swap; and
  • 160 communities have committed to launching or maintaining a public communication effort to encourage residents to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods.

Generations Protecting Generations

The monarch migration itself demonstrates the importance of generational collaboration because the monarch’s journey cannot be completed in one generation. On average, it can take four generations for the butterflies to repopulate the U.S. and Canada and return to overwintering grounds in Mexico. Participants of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program have also recognized the value of sharing and passing down efforts through generations and their own generational collaboration is invaluable in helping to protect future generations of monarchs on their journey.  

Children posing in front of an interactive art exhibit at the 2023 Village of Mamaroneck, NY Monarch Butterfly Festival. Credit: Zachary Ivler

Get Involved!

You can protect monarchs in your own community by keeping up to date on the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program and encouraging your mayor to take the pledge in 2025 on our website here. You can also support other pollinators and wildlife species by checking out our Community Wildlife Habitat program here.