The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) was awarded a $4,998 Community Engagement Mini Grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to engage Southern Maryland communities in reestablishing Chesapeake watershed meadows so monarch butterflies can thrive. The project, Butterflies for a Better Bay, partners with the Humane Society to focus on fostering monarch butterflies, much the way other animals are fostered when being rescued.
“Humane societies are centers of community activity and volunteerism and we believe we can couple the popularity of animal rescue and the appeal of monarch butterflies to engage our community in ecosystem restoration,” said CSM Biology Professor Paul Billeter. Billeter and CSM Biology Professor Dr. Tracey Stuller serve on CSM’s Environmental Sustainability Committee and work to keep CSM Bee Campus USA. “Monarchs are one of the most recognizable butterflies, famous for their beauty and 2,000-mile seasonal migration. As the appeal of whales and dolphins inspires ocean conservation, we propose using the inherent appeal of monarch butterflies to encourage interest in preserving the Chesapeake Bay by encouraging watershed native plant restoration.”
The Butterflies for a Better Bay project’s goal is to expand CSM’s Bee Campus USA efforts beyond CSM campuses by partnering with the agricultural community, home gardeners, businesses and municipalities. Bee City USA® renewed the CSM’s Bee Campus USA certification following a rigorous application process last spring. The college is recognized for collective efforts at its four campuses to conduct pollinator education and outreach, and sustain pollinator health and habitat with a least-toxic integrated pest management plan. Bee Campus USA affiliates are dedicated to reversing the decline of native plants and pollinators. According to Bee City USA®, native pollinators are responsible for one in three bites we eat and the reproduction of almost 90% of the world’s flowering plant species.
With spring nearing, now is the time to plant gardens that support Butterflies for a Better Bay. CSM and project partners are asking home/community gardeners and potential home/community gardeners to cultivate, expand awareness and take purposeful action directed at watershed restoration.
CSM’s partners in this project include the Humane Society of Charles County, Double Z Cowboy Corral and the Southern Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. These partnerships bring additional land for native plant cultivation, additional expertise in engaging underrepresented communities, and a high-traffic, community-focused center of operation.