This spring and summer, youth from five states across the Midwest will get to participate in Monarchs on the Move Challenge, a hands-on activity to learn about the monarch butterfly and the important role they play as pollinators. The challenge is part of the 2018 4-H Ag Innovators Experience (4-H AIE) activity, which has reached more than 40,000 youth since beginning in 2014 and is a collaboration between the National 4-H Council and Monsanto Company.
This year’s challenge, Monarchs on the Move, developed by Iowa State University, engages youth to learn about monarch butterflies, pollination, and the need to work together to be good stewards of the land. Through collaborative, hands-on experiments, participants will learn about the unique lifecycle of butterflies, understand the factors that impact the monarch butterfly’s declining population rates and explore ways to increase monarch habitat.
Working in teams, youth will operate as caterpillars as they navigate the model milkweed plant to gather food and react to variables that affect survival rates. Youth will then evaluate land satellite images to identify land management practices that provide opportunities to increase biodiversity. The recommendations of each team will be evaluated to determine the best proposal for increasing monarch habitat and biodiversity, while maintaining productive farmland.
“The 4-H Ag Innovator’s Experience provides youth with an opportunity to better understand the challenges facing today’s agriculture industry while giving them a platform to practice teamwork, communication, workforce development and STEM skills,” said National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo. “These life skills will be critically important as youth become the next leaders in agriculture innovation.”
Since 2014, more than 40,000 youth from across the U.S. have participated in nearly 800 domestic and global 4-H AIE events, led by 892 trained teen leaders. The Monarchs on the Move Challenge will take place March through July 2018 at various sites, including 4-H clubs, 4-H camps, school enrichment, and 4-H Afterschool settings.
“Monsanto is proud to continue to partner with 4-H on this year’s Ag Innovator’s Challenge,” said Aimee Hood, Science & Policy Information Management and Communications Lead. “This year’s challenge ‘Monarchs on the Move’ will help students understand the amazing lifecycle of the monarch butterfly, the challenges it faces, and how all sectors can help this iconic species.”