Monarch Butterfly
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Symbolic Monarch Butterfly Migration
Send a Monarch to Mexico
(About the Symbolic Migration)

Symbolic Migration Update: March 17, 1999

Final Days in Mexico
Your symbolic butterflies are now spending their final days in Mexico. Next week, the Children's Museum in Mexico City will prepare them for their flight north. At the same time, thousands are being gathered from 15 rural ejido communities in the monarch over-wintering region.

When Will Your Symbolic Butterflies Return?
The Symbolic Migration is now in our 3rd year, and we've learned we can't compete with Mother Nature. While the real monarchs are flooding northward, we'll be working behind the scenes to send symbolic monarchs back to your community. We must mail all packages at once; otherwise, people worry that theirs are lost and write to us in concern. Therefore, we plan to have all butterflies mailed by this deadline, so please mark your calendar:

Homecoming for Symbolic Monarchs: May 10, 1999

Future updates will be provided as the symbolic monarchs travel northward to our headquarters in Minnesota, and then in all directions--to reach you.

Photo Essay: The Human Side of Monarch Conservation
Over 150 photos from the region are included in the links from this report. You may even find your symbolic monarch in the hands of a student who cared for it this winter!

The purpose of the Symbolic Migration is to build understanding between children of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. We hope today's update will show you the personal side of monarch conservation, through the eyes of children who live in the sanctuary region. These people are some of the poorest in our hemisphere, yet much of the responsibility of monarch conservation falls on their shoulders. Just as they cared for your butterflies this winter, their families actually own the land where the monarchs rest each winter.

People in this mountainous region of Mexico live the way people lived for thousands of years, before travel and technology. We hope the pictures on these pages portray the warmth of the people here. It's hard to convey the feeling of seeing the familiar monarch in a place so foreign from home.

What is life like in the rural ejido* villages surrounding the sanctuaries? After visiting the region last month with Dr. Calvert, Mrs. Feitl's 7th grade students shared their reactions: "I'm torn between feeling guilty, lucky, sad and impressed with Mexico and its people," said Margaret. "My life has been truly changed," said Becky. "I found out about poverty. Hopefully it will help me keep things in perspective, like when I buy the extra pair of expensive jeans that I don't need." Christy was impressed by the strong culture and family ties she saw: "Even though the U.S. is economically richer," she said, "I think Mexico is richer in different ways."

*An "ejido" is a community with a unique system of land-ownership in Mexico. Land owned by an ejido is own jointly by its members. The ejido system was created by a government decree in the years after the Mexican revolution of 1911. Much of the land in and around the monarch sanctuaries is in ejido ownership. This makes conservation difficult, because each piece of land has multiple owners.

Visit an Ejido Family:

Visit a Rural School:

Cycling Through Controversy
All environmental issues are really about people--people with competing interests, conflicting values, and different ways of looking at things. Through this role-playing exercise, you can explore how the various people involved feel about monarch conservation.

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