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Published on May 13, 2014
Since insect ecologist Chip Taylor founded Monarch Watch in 1992, the organization has enlisted thousands of citizens to protect the monarch butterfly from extinction. The butterfly's numbers have sunk to ten percent of what they were in 1996, largely because milkweed—the only food source for monarch larvae and where adults lay their eggs—has been wiped out by herbicides and the relentless expansion of corn and soy acres in the Midwest. Based out of the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch has enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers each year to track the butterfly's population and advocate for its protection. Now Taylor is on a crusade to plant new milkweed habitat through Monarch Watch's "Bring the Monarch Back" initiative. Beginning in 2005, the program has sent milkweed plugs to over 160,000 schools, parks and home gardens, creating vital fuel sources for butterflies on their migration path from Canada to Mexico. For Taylor, the monarch's decline signals a larger crisis affecting all pollinators, upon whom much of our food system and the food sources of so many animals depend.
Film Credits: Narrated by: Mario Batali Directed by: Francesca Koe Cinematography by: Matt Bass Edited by: Ron Haas Produced by: Francesca Koe Original Music by: Pollen Music Group Photography by: Chad Sawyer Audio Post by: Jeremiah Moore Production Assistant: Tiffany Traynum