Wild Ones State Governor’s Letter Writing Campaign

After reading the Wild Ones email article about the effort to get milkweed planted at the White House, one of our members from Illinois thought why not plant it at our Governor’s mansion and the State Capital, too.  So she started this idea and the monarch committee and marketing committee think it is a great one. Sample letters and emails have been drafted to help everyone start this project in their own states.  Please feel free to change any of the language to fit your circumstances.

Ideas:

  • Eight states have the monarch as the state insect. You may want to add this important fact to the communications.
  • If you have a connection to a youth group or a school, you may want to highlight the use of kids in this project.
  • If your chapters are ready and willing to not only donate the plants, but also do the work, you will definitely want to highlight this fact.

Preliminary Work

Search the Internet to find out information on your Governor’s residence and the State capital. See if you can find any information on their gardens or grounds. Learn if they have any of your State’s native plants so you can be knowledgeable on how to proceed.

Search the Internet to find the mailing address and email address for the following people:

  • Governor
  • First Lady/Spouse
  • Governor’s Chief of Staff
  • Head of your State’s DNR/State Parks/DOT

We recommend sending an email to each of these people and follow up with a hard copy letter and the Wild for Monarch’s brochure.

Sample email or letter to send to key contacts


[Date]

[Address]

Dear [Governor]

People across America are encouraged by Mrs. Obama’s milkweed garden at the White House.  Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed plants because it is the only plant which their caterpillars eat. Sadly, monarchs are disappearing at an alarming rate, primarily due to loss of milkweed habitat across their breeding range due to development. In agricultural areas, milkweed has nearly disappeared from the landscape due to the increase in use of herbicides on tolerant crops. Wild Ones chapters and members, in collaboration with many other conservation programs across America are doing their best to encourage people to restore milkweed habitat for monarchs.  It would be an inspiration for more citizens to get involved in these efforts if you, Governor, would also create habitat for monarchs at the State Capital as a symbolic gesture.

[Monarch butterflies are (Illinois’) state insect, thanks to a successful lobbying effort by schoolchildren to have it designated as such in the mid-seventies.]  Or,  [Monarch butterflies cross through (name of state) on their way to their summer and winter grounds.]  It is important that we increase our efforts to provide habitat for these amazing insects, so future generations may enjoy them as we have!

So we’re writing to you, Governor __________________ to ask you to plant milkweed around the State Capital and the Governor’s Residence.  It might only be a symbolic gesture, but it likely would get people to plant milkweed in their yards, encourage farmers to protect milkweed in their fields and developers to leave corridors for wildlife. And it would certainly be beautiful to transform the Capital into a “butterfly garden” (in the summer), when so many people are visiting the Capital to see the sites.

Thank you for considering this.

Very truly yours,

(Signature)


 

Follow up email. Please read and edit as necessary.  A week after your hard copy letter is sent, follow up with an email:

Dear Governor,

As a follow-up to our recent letter and email, we wanted to let you know that we would like to donate milkweed plants to be planted at the Governor’s Residence or the State House. This would also be a great opportunity to educate the next generation and show them how to create a butterfly garden. There is definitely a great human interest story here.

We would also like to discuss how we can expand this effort into our state parks and roadways. If each of us plays a part by creating habitat for wildlife in our own neighborhoods, we believe that we can heal our fragmented landscape and sustain our native richness and biodiversity, one yard at a time.

We’d love to have a conversation with you to see how we can further support your goals. Can we schedule a meeting to discuss how we can help save the monarch?

 

Email of Support from Members. Sample of an email others could send to key contacts supporting t­­his project.

Dear Governor __________________,

I am writing to ask you to plant milkweed around the State Capitol and the Governor’s Residence. As a member of Wild Ones, I am wholeheartedly supporting this project and I understand the importance of the monarch and pollinators to our environment.

It might only be a symbolic gesture, but it likely would get people to plant milkweed in their yards and encourage farmers to protect milkweed in their fields. And it would certainly be beautiful to transform the Capitol into a “butterfly garden” (in the summer), to show everyone the importance and beauty of our native plants.

 

Gardening for pollinators talking points:

Why should one grow a butterfly garden using native plants?

  1. Native Milkweed is the host plant species for the monarch butterfly.  It is the only plant that monarchs lay their eggs on.
  2. Loss of habitat here in the Midwest as well as in their overwintering grounds in Mexico due to development and agriculture has reduced the monarch population.
  3. Signage will help educate the public to the importance of preserving the eastern monarch migration through the development of more habitat
  4. Because the monarch migration is one of the most spectacular and intriguing of all natural phenomena, many concerned organizations are involved in research related to the monarch migration including many citizen scientists.  We need to provide them with all the assistance we can.
  5. Wild Ones along with many organizations is helping to educate the public about the importance of restoring habitat to be used as corridors for all pollinators and not just monarchs.
  6. Because monarchs are so recognizable, a butterfly garden is an excellent way to get kids involved with the environment and the outdoors.
  7. Many Midwest states list the monarch as their state insect.  It would be a shame to have them disappear from the eastern migration just because we don’t provide sufficient habitat for them.
  8. Because so many people can identify with the beautiful orange and black butterfly, it would be a great human interest story as well as a natural history story.
  9. People have come to expect this magnificent annual pilgrimage.  It would be a shame to lose it.
  10.  Monarchs represent the canary in the mine shaft.  Because they use the same resources as many of our pollinators, their stability reflects the health of other pollinators, all of which are an important element in the web of life.
  11. Native plant butterfly gardens are naturally beautiful and because the plants evolved over time with the native insects, they provide an important link in the web of life.
  12. Native plants are perennial.  That along with their deep root structure makes them drought-resistant and long-lived with little or no maintenance once they have reached a certain level of maturity.
  13. Because of their deep root structure, native plants will reduce erosion of soils and increase filtration of runoff into our aquifers.
  14. Adding a butterfly garden would serve to reduce budget costs by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and maintenance of equipment by reducing mowing, as well as reducing long-term herbicide use and controlling invasive plants.
  15. Native plants sequester carbon and store it safely in their deep roots systems reducing greenhouse gases.
  16. A butterfly garden at the State Capital will garner many visitors and educational opportunities.  Great P.R..

Other Items:

  • Start a Facebook page supporting this effort or post on your Facebook page and continue to post facts, pictures, etc.  An idea for additional posts or blogs is to take each of the talking points and enter them as a separate post. Include pictures where possible.
  • Start a Petition on change.org. You will get more exposure by linking to a petition from the Facebook page and just asking for “likes.”
  • Share the petition and Facebook page with everyone. Ask business members to share the links on their blogs, websites and social media sites.