Environmental Concern’s “Seed Stewards for Monarchs” Increase Milkweed Habitat


Environmental Concern’s (EC) Seed Stewards for Monarchs program is increasing critical habitat for the “Near Threatened” Monarch butterfly. Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed plants, and the Monarch caterpillar only feeds on milkweed leaves.No milkweed – no Monarchs!

In 2004, an estimated 550 million Monarchs completed their winter migration. In 2013, only 33 million arrived at their overwintering grounds in Mexico….a 94% decrease over 9 years. In 2016, many non-profit and state organizations located on the west coast and the mid-west U.S. Monarch flyway zones responded to the drastic decline in the population by increasing habitat – one of the major reasons for the decline. In 2016,EC formed the Mid-Atlantic Monarch Initiative© (MAMI) to fill the need for an East Coast action plan to increase milkweed habitat. MAMI is working to activate conservation initiatives to benefit the Monarch butterfly.

Taylor Gordon, EC’s Program Coordinator, delivered plants and a welcome bag to Seed Steward, Lynda Shade.

EC introduced the first MAMI program, Seed Steward for Monarchs, to the public at their annual Spring Plant Sale in May. The goal of the program is to increase milkweed seed inventory for the 2019 milkweed crop. Seed Steward volunteers receive three free swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) or butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants to start a Monarch habitat garden. In addition to the plants, Seed Stewards receive a MAMI welcome bag filled with milkweed tools, tips, and tags for their plants.

The Seed Stewards communicate with EC throughout the summer and fall. Kathleen, one of our local volunteers, commented on EC’s Facebook page that the “milkweed pods were forming and opening, but the seeds were white”.  Taylor Gordon, EC’s Program Coordinator, posted a picture of a healthy, mature pod filled with seeds to help Kathleen identify healthy seeds.Seed Stewards also communicate with each other by posting pictures and videos on the Seed Steward for Monarchs Facebook Group Page. This is

As the milkweed blooms die off, the seed pods form. As the pods mature, and the seeds are ready to collect, EC volunteers exchange their seeds for more milkweed plants grown in EC’s nursery. Sixty volunteers and two 5th grade classes are currently growing milkweed plants for the Seed Steward program.

EC educators will be available to sign up volunteers for the Seed Steward for Monarchs program at EC’s Fall Native Plant Sale on Friday, September 7th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.Seed Stewards receive free milkweed plants to start a backyard Monarch habitat when they sign up for the program. Community Workshops will be offered to the public to increase awareness about the “Near Threatened” Monarch butterfly. Monarch Butterfly Rearing will be presented from 10am to 11am and Seed Stewards for Monarchs: Collecting Milkweed Seeds is scheduled from 11am to Noon. A donation of $10 is requested to support the program. The sale is located on EC’s campus at 201 Boundary Lane in St. Michaels. For more information or to register call 410.745.9620 or email reception@wetland.org.

About Environmental Concern

Environmental Concern is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1972 to promote public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing nature’s habitat. The organization accomplishes its mission through wetland outreach and education, native species horticulture, and the restoration, creation and enhancement of wetlands.

Letters to Editor

  1. Love it! But beware where the seeds are planted. Asclepias tuberosa will take over your world! Ann Hymes St. Michaels

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