On today’s show, I welcome a tender-hearted friend of the Monarch cause - Kylee Baumle and she’s written a book called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly.
Now, I’m going to tell you something most professionals in the gardening industry already know and that is this: Kylee is a huge supporter of the Monarch cause. She’s in the army of citizen scientists working to make sure that monarch habitat is preserved and she’s trying to make sure that everyday gardeners like you and me know how to play a role in Monarch protection and conservation. All of that is good and worthwhile work.
For me, what makes Kylee’s work (and book and all of her endeavors to learn more and do more on behalf of Monarchs) all the more special - is her personal story of how she came to enlist in this cause. I think it’s a story of kismet - of divine alignment - and it started with a little road trip.
I won’t ruin this lovely story - because Kylee talks about it in the show today - but I do want to point out that Kylee’s mom was with her back when her journey started. As a sentimental gal myself, I think that it makes the whole story extra special.
I had the chance to meet Kylee's lovely mother, Louise, at the Garden Bloggers Fling earlier this year. I have to say that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As a gardener, I know you understand what I mean when I say, you just couldn’t find lovelier people than Kylee and her mom Louise. They are just good people, good gardeners, and both have a love for the natural world. So the more I learned of how fate brought Kylee to a personal calling of sorts - to stand up for Monarchs - the message and the information in her book just took on a whole deeper meaning for me. I think it will for you as well.
What were you doing 10 years ago?
Imagine being able to go back in time and tell your old self what you’re up to today.
How things have turned out.
How chance encounters set you on a new path to something you could have never imagined.
That’s Kylee’s story.
Without spoiling the story, suffice it to say, Kylee didn’t imagine herself when she was a little girl growing up to be a Champion for Monarchs.
And no, she didn't go to school to save the Monarchs.
When she was getting married and raising kids and working in her non-gardening career, Monarchs probably didn’t make her top 100 - make that top 1 million - list.
But then suddenly - there they were.
The Monarchs were on her radar.
They were impacting her reading choices, her spare time, her garden, and her life.
And, they became a passion project for her.
Kylee began learning all she could about Monarchs.
She started studying up.
She became a citizen scientist - participating in several programs to provide data to researchers studying monarchs (through Monarch Watch with the University of Kansas, and Journey North, which reports migration sightings, roosts and other key monarch data).
She made sure her rural Ohio garden could become a Certified Monarch Waystation (#948) since 2006,
Then she also made sure her garden was also a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and then she registered with Pollinator Partnership as part of The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
And somewhere along the way, she began to conceive of a book to help spread the word - the book she’s sharing with us today - simply called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly.
In Kylee’s bio, she writes that
"Discovering the unique and beautiful monarch butterfly has helped her appreciate how so many things in nature depend on so many other things, including human beings.”
To be sure, Monarchs are depending on us. But, frankly, Monarchs are in trouble. This means the work of people, like Kylee, who care about saving monarchs all the more important.
I noticed right away that Kylee’s book is called The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly. Most- Loved. It’s that emotional connection - that love for them - that makes people take pay attention. Across the country, people are planting milkweed (in their front yards)! Folks respond when they hear about the plight of Monarchs - we really do love them.
It’s that special affection for Monarchs that makes Kylee wants her grandchildren to not only be able to tell the wondrous story of the monarch to their own children and grandchildren, but to be able to show them much of it firsthand.
Ten years ago, Kylee’s chance encounter with a Monarch made her want to learn more, discover more, and do more on their behalf. That little spark of curiosity and love would grow into a decades worth of experiences - culminating in Kylee writing book and experiencing a rare, once-in-a-lifetime trip as Kylee (like her beloved Monarchs), made her way to the sanctuary in Mexico.
Isn’t it funny, how life turns out?
Who can say that a single Monarch can’t find their way into someone’s heart?
It can happen.
It did happen.
It’s time to float like a butterfly - a beloved monarch butterfly - and join the effort to save them with today’s guest: Kylee Baumle.
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Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.
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