Virtual Monarch Summit connects stakeholders, citizens to further protections for pollinators

Nearly 150 people representing state agencies, agricultural and environmental organizations, higher education and concerned citizens last month connected virtually to voice their support for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators in Illinois.

The summit, organized by the Illinois Monarch Project, was held via an online video conference Oct. 28 and allowed participants an opportunity to engage in breakout sessions to help identify ways both organizations and individuals can help implement and support the recently signed Monarch Action Plan.

The state coordinator for the Illinois Monarch Project is Iris Caldwell, program manager at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Energy Resources Center.

“While not the in-person event we initially hoped for, our virtual summit to help kick off implementation of our Monarch Action Plan went extremely well,” Caldwell said. “Our participants were so engaged and so excited to begin the important work of enhancing Monarch conservation activities already taking place.”

Since 2017, the University of Illinois Chicago has partnered with more than 45 energy companies and transportation agencies to develop the first nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, or CCAA, which is a formal agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and non-federal property owners and land managers to engage in important conservation actions to protect the monarch butterfly.

The event, which was the first of a series of web-based conferences, featured comments from Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan as well as remarks from Illinois Monarch Project coordinators.

“As it has with many organizations and businesses, the ongoing pandemic has forced us as coordinators for the Illinois Monarch Project to rethink not only how we launch this action plan, but also how we engage with people across the state,” Caldwell said. “In this case, virtual events have allowed us to connect with so many people who may not have been able to travel to an in-person meeting. We’re looking forward to additional events later this year and early in 2021.”

Upcoming virtual Monarch Action Plan events include:

  • Route 66 Corridor for Monarchs – Nov. 18, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Resources for Monarch Action Plan – Jan. 19, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Engaging Monarch Ambassadors – Feb. 17, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Spring into Action on the Ground – May 4, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional information on upcoming virtual events, the Illinois Monarch Project, and full text of the recently signed Monarch Action Plan can be found at

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