Environmental Concern’s (EC) Vice President of Restoration, Jessica Lister, is participating in the “Monarch Ultra” Relay Run and Documentary – a dream come true for this monarch butterfly and running enthusiast. The relay race and documentary film is the first attempt to run across North America (Canada, United States and Mexico) to raise awareness of monarch butterflies who make this amazing migratory journey every year.
Jessica has been passionate about the “near threatened” monarch butterfly since her high school days when she first learned about this fascinating insect. She says, “My hope is that the monarch butterfly will become a symbol of resiliency, strength and empowerment for thousands of people, motivating them into conservation action.”
Jessica will join about 70 ultra runners following the 2,760-mile migratory path of the monarch butterfly. The relay starts on September 19 in Peterborough, Ontario and will continue for 47 days through the United States to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. A team of film makers will be following the runners telling the story of the flight of the monarch butterfly.
Jessica is running the 50K segment in Harrisburg, Illinois on October 2. She also has the amazing opportunity to run with a select few that are running the last leg of the relay on November 4 up the mountain to the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico. Running an ultra is not something to take lightly. For Jessica, this will be her first ultra run.
“I could not be more excited to embark on this journey and support this amazing project. I have been putting in the training, working hard…I am slowly ‘transforming’ just like the monarch butterfly,” commented Jessica.
The “Monarch Ultra” project has already received international recognition. Jessica and EC president, Suzanne Pittenger-Slear, were honored to receive an invitation from the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation & Management to present the “Monarch Ultra” and EC’s “Mini Monarch Ultra” Program to the delegates from Canada, the United States and Mexico at the annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia. The project has been identified by the committee as a trinational program that is consistent with the committee’s priorities.
EC has been working in partnership with the “Monarch Ultra” team founders (Carlotta James, Rodney Fuentes, and Clay Williams) and other Global Partners to raise human awareness and interest in the monarch butterfly and habitat conservation. Both Jessica and Suzanne are Monarch Ambassadors, supporting the goals of the Monarch Ultra project; promoting meaningful conversation at the local level; and supporting the relay run logistics.
EC is also coordinating the “Mini Monarch Ultra” Program for local school-age children that will coincide with the “Monarch Ultra” run. Students will participate in their own “Mini Monarch Ultra” run/walk while following the progress of the ultra runners. Students will learn about the monarch migration, connect with other schools and students throughout North America, and will receive a milkweed plug to plant in their very own pollinator habitats.
“This is a unique opportunity to expand the students’ connection with nature and the monarch butterfly’s challenging journey. The program also provides a process for students to communicate with other schools across North America who are participating in the “Mini Monarch UItras,” said Suzanne.