Pollinator Recovery

Monarch Butterfly Golden Rod: Ronald GibsonFrom bees to bats and butterflies to beetles, pollinators play a pivotal role in our ecosystem. Bees are important pollinators, with bee populations allowing wild plants to produce the foods that form the base of the natural food web. The iconic monarch butterfly, another impressive pollinator, spreads pollen as it feeds on the nectar of wildflowers while undertaking its stunning 3,000-mile migration from Canada to Mexico and back each year.

Yet pollinators worldwide are in decline—with habitat loss, disease, and pesticides largely to blame.

The good news: Everyone can take actions, big or small, to aid in the recovery of these incredible species. Learn how to get involved with the Garden for Wildlife movement and help pollinators thrive.

Get Involved

Create and Certify Your Wildlife Habitat

Create an outdoor space using native plants that attract monarchs and other pollinators. Once you’ve incorporated all the elements of a wildlife-friendly habitat—food, water, cover, and places to raise young—be recognized by certifying your space through Garden for Wildlife’s signature Certified Wildlife Habitat program. Every $20 application fee helps further protect and restore key habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Every certified garden also counts toward meeting the goals of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

Be a Butterfly Hero

Butterfly Heroes is an initiative that connects gardeners and kids and families alike to help monarch butterflies and other pollinators. By taking a pledge to be a Butterfly Hero, pledgers are committing to create new habitat for monarchs.

Plant a Schoolyard Habitats®

Plant a pollinator-friendly garden on your school grounds that doubles as an outdoor learning environment. Use your garden to aid in monarch recovery efforts by planting milkweed, cultivating native nectar plants, avoiding insecticides, and getting students involved in citizen science efforts. Discover tips for getting started and maintaining your schoolyard garden.

Grow a Wild NYC

Using local schools, gardens, and parks as real-life learning laboratories, the Growing a Wild NYC program teaches kids about local pollinators, their habitats, and the causes of their decline. Students also learn basic gardening techniques to grow the native plant species that pollinators need to survive.

Take the Campus Pollinator Pledge

College and university students, faculty, and staff can take action on campus to provide healthy habitat for pollinators. By taking the Campus Pollinator Pledge, campuses commit to providing healthy habitat through creation, restoration, and protection efforts, and to engage and educate their campus community about the importance of these species.

Come Together for Wildlife

Cities, towns, counties, and neighborhoods across the country are taking action as Community Wildlife Habitats to support pollinators. As a participating community, these actions include:

  • Creating pollinator habitat by planting native, nectar-producing plants and creating corridors for wildlife in urban and suburban areas.
  • Educating citizens about the decline of the monarch butterfly through educational events, local editorials, creating educational materials and leading citizen science efforts.
  • Hosting events including native milkweed seed collections, milkweed plug giveaways, planting milkweeds in demonstration gardens and showcasing native milkweed in local Certified Wildlife Habitat® garden tours.
  • Advocating for local ordinances that do not prevent the planting of non-invasive native grasses, flowering plants, and milkweed.

Take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge

Through the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, cities, municipalities, and other communities are committing to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, and to educate citizens about how they can make a difference at home and in their community. 

Create Urban Monarch Conservation Plans

The National Wildlife Federation provides support to select major cities in the Central Monarch Flyway to create city-specific monarch conservation plans. In each city, the National Wildlife Federation helps bring together numerous partners to build local monarch networks that collaborate on projects and initiatives throughout the community.

Join Your Local Affiliate

Get involved with statewide efforts through one of the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate partners.

Examples of state support include:

  • Delaware Nature Society: Our Delaware affiliate has a butterfly house at their Ashland Nature Center. The Delaware Nature Society leads education programs about monarchs and other butterflies for school groups and summer camps, and is active in citizen science through monarch tagging. The Delaware Nature Society also manages over 1,100 acres of land in the state, a portion of which is in meadow habitat and specifically planted with milkweed.
  • New Jersey Audubon: For 25 years the Monarch Monitoring Project, run through the New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, has collected and tagged monarchs traveling the Atlantic Coast on a 2,000-mile journey to Mexico as they become concentrated in Cape May before crossing the Delaware Bay. Legislatively, New Jersey Audubon has worked closely with New Jersey Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, who sponsored four bills to help pollinators and monarchs.
  • North Carolina Wildlife Federation: Our North Carolina affiliate participates in the Certified Wildlife Habitat program. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation also has a corps of Habitat Steward volunteers who do presentations and outreach across the state, which very often feature monarchs and other butterflies. In addition, they are working to certify several major cities as Community Wildlife Habitats, such as Charlotte and Concord.
  • South Carolina Wildlife Federation: Through the Certified Wildlife Habitat program, our South Carolina affiliate has been encouraging gardeners and larger landowners to plant native milkweed that will provide habitat for the monarch butterfly. Packets of milkweed seed are available through the South Carolina Wildlife Federation’s office, and a partnership has been established with the Live Monarch Foundation, where more milkweed seeds and seedlings can be purchased.

Plan a Monarch Summit

Develop a unified communication strategy and identify opportunities to share resources. Read our guide for information on how to plan a statewide Monarch Summit.

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More