Chasing Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus

Hello everyone, my name is Jansy Alvarado, and I am the Research & Education Outreach Field Specialist for Environment for the Americas on the Monarch Project this year. I am excited to experience and monitor the Eastern Monarch and follow them along their journey all while documenting my own journey. I have traveled a ways from home, Los Angeles, California but am excited for the adventures that lie ahead. This time last year I was fortunate to survey and monitor the Western Monarch population so when the opportunity to survey and monitor the Eastern Monarchs population I simply could not pass the opportunity up. The Eastern Monarch follows a very interesting path up the I-35 and this project is a unique one since I will be tracking the butterflies as they travel north. I have been tasked with monitoring sites on DOD installations which have opened up new views about the world but new perspectives about the military and their families. 

The start of my journey took place in Austin, Texas. I was fortunate to attend the Monarch Joint Venture Conference that was held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center where I was able to learn more about the amazing work our partners are doing. This week was jam packed with practicing the IMMP protocol, practicing plant IDing as well as milkweed IDing, and of course trying all sorts of different cuisine Austin had to offer. After our training I headed to Oklahoma where I would be assisting the Human Resource Managers, Russell and Vici to set up their plots for monitoring on Fort Sill. They have been so welcoming and such a fountain of knowledge. One of my favorite plants that I was introduced to here in Oklahoma has to be scrambled eggs, Corydalis aura. It is such a funny name for a plant, but very fitting since the flowers are a vibrant yellow with squiggly petals. After spending some time at Fort Sill and getting to know and see more about their tall grass prairie landscape I was on my way back to Fort Cavazos to follow the Monarchs. This project has kept me on my toes and has taught me to expect the unexpected. As much as we try to make plans, nature has its own timeline. I have enjoyed the new sites and new friends I have made along the way in Texas and Oklahoma so far. I can’t wait to see what next week’s adventures bring me!

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