Being in the early childhood education field, I feel it is only natural and fitting to be enamored by nature. Not only is it always there in many forms, it is free to observe and participate in its never ending transformations.

On July 18, 2015, I will be offering the 3-hour workshop, Growing Up WILD! This is early childhood education program from the Council for Environmental Education builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them.

Growing Up Wild guide book

The 128-page guide book, loaded with activities and resources.

During this workshop I will present a variety of resources and activities for Growing Up WILD! that help early childhood educators and caregivers connect children to nature and encourage exploration. The 128-page guide included with the workshop is full of art, music, outdoor, snack and even math projects for any early childhood professional or parent to implement quickly and easily.

While preparing for the July 18 workshop, I learned of a “crisis” in nature involving one of the most beautiful attractions—the Monarch Butterfly.  According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, “North American monarch butterflies are in trouble. Threats, including loss of milkweed habitat needed to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to eat, are having a devastating impact on their populations and the migration phenomenon. Unless we act now to help the Monarch, this amazing animal could disappear in our lifetime.”

Monarch butterfly larvae feel only on the milkweed plant. (Image: R.A. Howard, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)

Monarch butterfly larvae feed only on the milkweed plant. (Image: R.A. Howard, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)

Monarch larvae ONLY eat milkweed. The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment the monarch needs to transform the monarch caterpillar into the adult butterfly.  This “weed” is rapidly disappearing due to the agricultural use of GMOs, widespread herbicide use, and land development.

Fortunately, for this year’s participants and the monarch caterpillars, our agency is located adjacent to a prairie field, where much to my surprise and good luck, milkweed is flourishing.
This year’s Growing Up WILD! workshop will incorporate the plight of the milkweed and ultimately the Monarch Butterfly. The wonder inspired by butterflies engages a child’s curiosity, easily connecting them to lessons of both the insect’s life cycle as well as the environment.  I hope to “convert” a few advocates, young and old, to spread the word and the milkweed to keep this miracle of metamorphosis around for many generations to come.

For more information concerning this workshop, please contact Nancy at 815-484-9442 ext. 211.