Conservation Partner:

Monarch Joint Venture

Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Monarch Joint Venture and the work they do in the US, Canada, and Mexico to protect habitat and food resources for Monarchs as they migrate across North America.

Q: Tell us about the Monarch Joint Venture and its mission.

A: The Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that partners with federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and academic programs to protect monarch butterflies and their migration across Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Guided by the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (2008) and the annually updated Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan, the MJV takes a science- and community-based approach to deliver monarch and pollinator habitat conservation, education and science initiatives across the U.S., and serves as a catalyst for positive outcomes in tri-national monarch conservation efforts.

Q: What is the history of the MJV?

A: Founded in 2008 as part of the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, the MJV’s structure as a joint venture was modeled after the pioneering North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the largest cooperative effort ever convened to protect wetlands and waterfowl. This structure seemed appropriate since both monarchs and waterfowl migrate over huge and varied landscapes, and both have specific habitat requirements. With monarch populations in steep decline, the collaborative framework of a joint venture has proven to be highly effective in monarch conservation efforts.

In 2019, the MJV became a standalone nonprofit under the leadership of Executive Director Wendy Caldwell. With a growing staff and a network of more than 100 partners and initiatives across the U.S., the MJV continues to work collaboratively to bring back the monarchs and support healthy habitat for all pollinators.

Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?

A: The four pillars of our work are habitat, science, education, and partnerships. In each of these areas, MJV staff are spearheading innovative new programs and coordinating ongoing initiatives that contribute to North American monarch conservation as a whole.

Our mission and programs serve a diverse audience. MJV partners are governmental agencies, NGOs, academic programs, businesses, and many other types of entities. Our habitat restoration and monitoring programs span the U.S. and partner with farmers, land managers and nonprofits, not to mention everyday people who join our community science projects. MJV educational programs are designed to “train the trainers” so teachers, community organizers, and environmental activists benefit from them. The list goes on!

“The best thing we can do to help monarchs is to increase and improve the habitats that they have available to them across North America, supporting their needs at each link of their annual cycle. If we can improve their chances of finding good quality habitat, we will help to boost their reproductive success, and therefore the size and success of the population.”

—Wendy Caldwell, MJV Executive Director

Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?

A: The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is one of our large-scale, ongoing community science projects. Co-managed by the MJV and University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, MLMP was developed more than two decades ago and is powered by hundreds of volunteers in the U.S. and Canada who collect data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. Since milkweed species are the sole food for monarch caterpillars, and the only plant where monarchs lay their eggs, this monitoring is crucial. Anyone can get involved, and your observations help scientists, conservationists, and butterfly conservation.

The Monarch Butterfly Conservation Webinar Series is a monthly webinar co-hosted by the MJV and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center. Started in 2014, this long standing educational series features presenters from across the field of monarch conservation. Check out upcoming webinars here, and watch archived webinars to gain in-depth knowledge of history and current events in the world of monarchs.

The Habitat Technical Assistance Program provides support for creating and restoring pollinator habitat on private working lands in California’s Central Valley and in the Midwestern states. MJV technical assistance includes site visits, pollinator habitat seed mixes, customized conservation management plans, and ongoing guidance for your project.

Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?

A: Over the past 20 years, North American monarch butterfly populations have steeply declined, with populations east of the Rockies down more than 80% and Western populations down 99.9%. The situation truly calls for all hands on deck to protect this species! Conserving the monarch population is important for ecological, educational, and inspirational reasons.

Monarchs need the same habitat as many other pollinators and wildlife, so if monarchs are in trouble, then many other creatures are as well. Because monarchs are so well known and their decline is easy to see, they’re like the proverbial canary in the coal mine for pollinators.

Regarding economic impact, declining pollinator populations directly affect human food systems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about 2/3 of the world’s food crops rely on pollinators in order to produce fruits and seeds. That means that as pollinator populations decline, so do resilient food systems. The FAO indicates that up to $577 billion worth of “annual global food production relies on direct contributions by pollinators.” (source)

Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?

A: We need everyone to get involved to support North American monarchs! Check out the MJV website for resources to help you get started. Here are a few ideas: 1. Create pollinator habitat by planting native milkweed and nectar plants in your yard or community. Since habitat loss is a primary cause of monarch and pollinator population decline, creating new habitat is one of the most valuable things you can do to help. Plus, nectar plants = flowers, and who doesn’t want more flowers in the garden? 2. Join a monarch community science project, so that your backyard monarch observations help create a continent-wide data set that scientists and conservation organizations can use. 3. Spread awareness about monarch declines and conservation opportunities in your community.

Learn more about Monarch Joint Venture on their website and follow along on their InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for regular updates.