Environmental Concern’s (EC) Vice President of Restoration, Jessica Lister, is participating in the “Monarch Ultra” Relay Run and Documentary – a dream come true for this monarch butterfly and running enthusiast. The relay race and documentary film is the first attempt to run across North America (Canada, United States & Mexico) in order to raise awareness of monarch butterflies who make this amazing migratory journey every year. Environmental Concern is working in partnership with the “Monarch Ultra” group to increase habitat for the “Near Threatened” Monarch butterfly on the east coast, one of the goals of EC’s Mid-Atlantic Monarch Initiative.
Lister has been passionate about the monarch butterfly since her high schooldays when she first learned about this fascinating insect. Lister says, “My hope is that the monarch butterfly will become a symbol of resiliency, strength and empowerment for thousands of people, motivating them into conservation action.”
Lister will join approximately 70 ultra runners following the 4,300 km (2,760 miles) migratory path of the monarch butterfly. The relay started on September 19 in Peterborough, Ontario, and will continue for 47 days through the United States to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. A team of filmmakers will be following the runners telling the story of the flight of the monarch butterfly. Lister is running the 50K segment in Harrisburg, Illinois on October 2. She also has the amazing opportunity to run with a select chosen few that are running the last leg of the relay on November 4 up the mountain to the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.For Lister, this will be her first ultra run. “I could not be more excited to embark on this journey and support this amazing project. I have been putting in the training, working hard…I am slowly transforming just like the monarch butterfly”, commented Lister.
The “Monarch Ultra”project has already received international recognition. Lister and EC president, Suzanne Pittenger-Slear, were honored to receive an invitation from the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation & Management to present the “Monarch Ultra” and EC’s “Mini Monarch Ultra” Program to the delegates from Canada, the United States and Mexico at their annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia. The project has been identified by the Committee as a trinational program that is consistent with the committee’s priorities.
EC has been working with the “Monarch Ultra” team founders (Carlotta James, Rodney Fuentes, and Clay Williams) and other Global Partners to raise human awareness and interest in the monarch butterfly and habitat conservation. Both Lister and Pittenger-Slear are Monarch Ambassadors, supporting the goals of the Monarch Ultra project; promoting meaningful conversation at the local level; and supporting the relay run logistics.
EC is also coordinating the “Mini Monarch Ultra” Program for local school-age children that will coincide with the “Monarch Ultra” run. Students will participate in their own “Mini Monarch Ultra” run/walk while following the progress of the ultra runners. Students will learn about the monarch migration, connect with other schools and students throughout North America, and will receive a milkweed plug to plant in their very own pollinator habitats. “This is a unique opportunity to expand the students’ connection with nature and the monarch butterfly’s challenging journey. The Program also provides a process for students to communicate with other schools across North America who are participating in the “Mini Monarch UItras”. Environmental Concern is proud to support the “Monarch Ultra” and Jessica’s journey…one step at a time”, comments Pittenger-Slear.
To learn more about the “Monarch Ultra”relay run and the “Mini Monarch Ultra Program”, visit www.wetland.org/mid-atlantic-monarch-initiative/.
About Environmental Concern
Environmental Concern is a 501(c)3 public non-profit corporation established in 1972 to promote public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing nature’s habitat. The organization accomplishes its mission through wetland outreach and education, native species horticulture, and the restoration and enhancement of wetlands. For the last 47 years, Environmental Concern has been working to restore the Bay…one wetland at a time.