Highlighting its environmental education and parental engagement programs in partnership with US Forest Service International Programs

More than 100 monarch butterflies to be released in celebration of the year-long program

El Valor will highlight its environmental education programming efforts by using monarch butterflies with an aim strengthen its STEM-based learning and parental engagement among the families and children the organization serves.

El Valor and US Forest Service International Programs have established a partnership since 2009 utilizing the monarch butterflies as key learning tools for El Valor’s birth-to-5 Early Head Start and Head Start programs. The partnership and program has provided an increase in school preparation, encouraged vocabulary acquisition, and stimulated an increase for environmental science, while promoting positive community engagement and parental involvement in Mexican-American communities across Chicago.

These distinctive monarch butterflies are a significant cultural symbol for immigrants. El Valor has provided an engaging learning environment for families through the utilization of these butterflies, including an opportunity to raise them at home, along with combining active exploration activities among El Valor educators and 800 students in both the classroom and schoolyard throughout the year.

Recent 2014 reports indicate that fewer monarch butterflies are migrating back to Mexico because of the decline of milkweed, the only plant for which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, while serving as a primary food source for monarch caterpillars, in the United States.

In 2004, an estimated 550 million completed the winter migration, while in 2013 only 33 million arrived. Over the past several years, there was a dramatic 43.7 percent decrease of butterflies to Mexico. These reports show a grave concern for conservationists as monarchs have long been considered both an indicator of ecological health and a representative of pollinator populations.

Despite these tragic reports, El Valor’s families and students have maintained a positive learning environment, while successfully completing this active exploration program. More than 100 monarch butterflies at El Valor will be released to begin their annual southern migration to their sanctuaries of central Mexico. The event is open to the public. If interested in attending, contact Maria Lopez at 312-492-5937 or maria.lopez@elvalor.net