“Wild for Monarchs” Partnership




The Kalamazoo Gazette published an article and video about Wild Ones’ new partnership with Monarch Joint Venture and Bring Back the Monarchs of Monarch Watch. Enjoy the (mostly accurate) interview with Ilse Gebhard, one of KAWO’s founding members and a real Monarch expert.


The Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones Monarch Committee – led by Ilse Gebhard – had another busy year.

• Three species of milkweed (Common, Swamp and Butterfly) were grown by KAWO members Mike and Carol Klug, Ilse Gebhard, and Betty Rizzo, and the greenhouses of WMU and Monarch Watch. A big thank you to all, including Steve Keto, WMU’s Natural Areas and Preserves Manager, and Chris Jackson, Director of WMU’s Finch Plant-Science Greenhouse.

• Milkweeds were distributed free at Van Buren Conservation District native-plant sale, KAWO spring and fall plant exchanges, KAWO native plant sale, KAWO June field trip and August fundraiser, Schoolcraft 4th of July Parade, Oshtemo’s Drake House Open House, and Oshtemo Fun Day.

• In addition, free milkweeds were distributed at three monarch presentations and two Monarch Larva Monitoring Project Workshops. Pierce Cedar Creek Institute received milkweed plants and seedlings for planting in their prairie projects, and the Van-Kal Permaculture group received seedlings to pot up and distribute.

* In total 10 monarch presentations and workshops were given, and 11 events or meetings were attended with the monarch booth. Monarch conservation materials were also distributed at several other events without a formal booth.

• KAWO members participated in Kalamazoo’s Do-Dah Parade, giving out about 1000 milkweed seed packets with monarch conservation information and about 900 monarch bookmarks.

• Two interviews on monarchs were given, one with WMUK and one with Howard Meyerson.

• Monarch larvae were donated to Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in July and August for their Monarch Exhibit. Milkweed seed packets and monarch conservation materials were provided for distribution to visitors.

• In early September monarch larvae were given to 11 teachers in six schools for their classrooms, with raising instructions and monarch conservation information, as well as monarch bookmarks for more than 300 students.

• In addition to the already mentioned milkweeds, the WMU Greenhouse grew a number of other native plant species for the creation of new Monarch Waystations or for plant diversification of already established ones. KAWO members also donated native plants for these waystations. Some waystations only required guidance; others needed help weeding and planting to get established.

• Eight new monarch waystations were created: Den Adel Court and Oak St. Community Gardens, Woodward and Edison Elementary Schools gardens, Schoolcraft and Plainwell Libraries, the Kalamazoo County Land Bank’s Riverview Launch and downtown Plainwell gardens.

• Plants were added for diversification to the following waystations: Wall St. Community Garden, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary pollinator garden, Crane Park Master Gardener butterfly garden, Skyridge Church raingarden, Willard St. rain gardens, and five non-waystation curb-corner gardens in the Vine Neighborhood.

• A total of 11 new waystations were registered at no cost to non-profit entities, and the KAWO Monarch Committee paid for eight waystation signs and posts from donations earmarked for the committee.


Make a financial donation to support purchase of plug trays, growing media, or plants. Any amount welcome! Write checks to Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones (KAWO) with a notation for Monarch Committee in the memo line;

Grow milkweed plants to share with family and friends and to give away at events like plant exchanges. Seeds and instructions available at monthly meetings, or contact Ilse Gebhard (gebhard.ilse@gmail.com);

Join the Monarch Committee or express an interest in being contacted for tasks; please let Ilse Gebhard know. Sometime this winter we’ll need help transplanting seedlings from seed flats to plug flats (an excellent opportunity to see how native plants are grown in a greenhouse setting);

Plant milkweed in your yard and register it as a Monarch Watch Waystation—if you haven’t, this would be a great time. Seeds and information available at meetings, or go to www.monarchwatch.org;

Motivate non-members to plant milkweed on their properties, or share how-to ideas. Ilse Gebhard has a PowerPoint presentation – if you belong to any group looking for programs, please let Ilse know.