Shenandoah National Park features Monarch butterflies, milkweed on National Public Lands Day

ShenandoahLogo_Outlined_Black_VerticalMonarch butterflies and milkweed seeds will be the focus for the 23rd National Public Lands Day volunteer event in Shenandoah National Park. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

This event will be held Saturday, September 24, at Byrd Visitor Center, mile 51 on Skyline Drive. The event begins at 9:00 a.m. and is open to the public. Park entrance fees are waived on this special day.

Here is a brief schedule of activities for this year’s National Public Lands Day in Shenandoah:

Milkweed Seed Collection Volunteer Event, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Join us to collect the seeds and pods of the poke milkweed,Asclepias exaltata, and common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, in Big Meadows. Participants will learn to identify the milkweed plant and the differences between the fruit of these two species. Park botany staff will lead groups at collection points. Collected seeds will be used in various plant restoration projects throughout the Park to re-establish native habitat, especially helpful in places where invasive plants are removed. More milkweed plants in the Park mean more food for Monarch butterflies!

Volunteers of all ages are welcome. Volunteers must register at Byrd Visitor Center between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, apply sunscreen and bug spray, and bring plenty of water.

  • Interpretive Table & Children’s Activity Table, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Learn all about Monarch butterflies, their biology, and migration, with butterfly activities and coloring pages for kids of all ages. Come color and tag your own paper butterfly!
  • Wild Side of Shenandoah Ranger Talk, 11:30 a.m. – Join Ranger Mara for her talk on butterflies and the important role the Park plays in protecting their habitat. 20-30 minutes.
  • Monarch Tagging Demonstration, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Park Rangers will demonstrate and describe the hows and whys of Shenandoah’s first-ever Monarch tagging project. Tagged butterflies will be tracked as they migrate south to overwinter in Mexico. Data gathered will help scientists determine Monarch migration patterns, survivorship, and population trends. The Monarch tagging program is being presented in conjunction with the University of Kansas Monarch Watch.
  • Monarch Butterfly Release, 3:00 p.m. – Watch as we release the tagged Monarch butterflies!

National Public Lands Day is a great day to visit Shenandoah National Park, because it’s your chance to help with a Park-improving volunteer activity while learning how to help even more in the future.

This event is possible because of a generous donation from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). NEEF works to connect people to public lands in their community, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health.