On the first Saturday in November, Hays County Master Naturalists teamed up with the Hays County Parks Department staff at Jacob’s Well to host a Monarch Marathon. The event was led by HCMN Melinda Seib and Quincy Kennedy, Park Specialist - Education & Outreach.
Special guests, Gracy Belle Broussard and Richard Lindley, told of their ground-breaking work with the researchers and scientists in Mexico who were the very first to study the monarch migration. Under the shade of an oak tree just outside the Nature Center, Gracy shared this story with the children, their parents and grandparents.
Every year the Mexican people honor their deceased relatives with many beautiful flowers on a special day called The Day of the Dead. In a particular region, high in the mountains of Mexico, this celebration coincides with the return of millions of migrating monarchs to roost and overwinter in the branches of the Oyamel trees. The people of the region love the monarchs, and the monarchs enjoy the nectar of their numerous flowers. But one day the monarchs did not come and the people thought it was because of the researchers. They did not understand that it was really due to the over-harvesting and decline of the Oyamel trees, which were used by the people for houses, furniture, and firewood. They did not understand the important role the large fir trees played in supporting the life cycle of their beautiful butterflies. With the help of the researchers and local conservationists, a sanctuary was established to protect the trees.The people of the region are learning how to carry on with their livelihoods while also preserving the forests for the monarchs.
Many thanks to the HCMNs who supported this event: Mimi Boelter, Irene Bonde, Deb Bradshaw, Betsy Cross, Tom Jones, Dana Martensen, Melinda Seib, and Katherine Senftleber; also to guest presenters Gracy Belle Broussard and Richard Lindley; and to Quincy Kennedy and the staff at Jacob’s Well.
And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we could not have been more grateful for the complete cooperation of Mother Nature - the beautiful day, the perfect weather, and most importantly the Monarchs, the Queens, and the other butterflies who arrived and performed magnificently on schedule!