Central College’s biology program, the City of Pella and the Pella Public Library have partnered to create and distribute milkweed seedlings free to area residents. The goal is to engage citizens to establish and expand butterfly and pollinator habitats in Iowa.
The milkweed seedlings were started in Central’s biology facility by Kristin Siewert, senior lecturer of biology, and students. Available insecticide-free plants will be common milkweed, showy milkweed, prairie milkweed, swamp milkweed and butterfly milkweed.
“I’ve been involved with monarch and milkweed research, monarch citizen science and habitat development for years,” Siewert says. “The primary goal of this project is to involve the public in pollinator habitat development efforts. Large expanses of pollinator habitat such as the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge are important, but smaller stepping-stone habitats are also essential. Milkweeds planted in residential and community areas provide critical resources necessary to sustain the monarch population. This project is an invitation to participate in the restoration of habitat to positively impact pollinator populations.”
Madi Whalen, environmental studies major in the Class of 2026, is developing a brochure about establishing a habitat in Sunken Garden Park as part of the larger goal to support pollinator habitats.
Area residents may pick up the seedlings between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday, May 8, at the Pella Public Library, 603 Main St., Pella, Iowa.
In cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources, the city will provide tree and shrub seedlings to area residents, including burr oak, shagbark hickory, eastern white pine, silky dogwood shrubs and buttonbush shrubs.