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Nature Rangers

“It was awesome to be able to tag a monarch. I had this feeling like I was holding a delicate piece of glass.”

-Emily Hobrock, age 10

For more information on the Nature Ranger Club, contact Bernadine McCollumat the Hassayampa River Preserve: 928-684-2772. Download the Nature Rangers Events Schedule (.pdf, 34 kb).

By Christina Kondrat-Smith

Net in one hand, sweat dripping from my brow, I lift my binoculars to take a closer look at the flash of orange that just glided past me and landed on the swaying willow tree across the Hassayampa River …

YES! It’s a monarch.

After many mornings and late afternoons on foot at the Hassayampa River Preserve, we’ve spotted not just a few, but dozens of monarchs.

It’s November 6, and I’m here with my daughter, Sydney Smith, and several of her friends who are the founding members of the Nature Rangers Club at Hassayampa River Preserve. They are ecstatic about these monarch butterflies that have arrived in greater numbers than years past.

To add to today’s excitement, we successfully tagged more than a dozen of these wondrous fluttering visitors as they made their way through the lush streamside habitat along the Hassayampa River.

“It was awesome to be able to tag a monarch. I had this feeling like I was holding a delicate piece of glass,” said Emily Hobrock, age 10.

“It was fun to hold a monarch,” added Ian Petrow, 8. "I can't wait to find out where he has traveled to.”

The tagging effort was a first. After carefully catching the monarchs, we put tiny little stickers with contact information and a special ID number on them. If the monarchs we tagged are either spotted or recovered in the future, and the organization is contacted, the tag helps shed light on their travels either to Mexico or California.

One lucky monarch got a special name. Together Ian, Sydney, Emily and Holly decided to name him “Mr. Nature Ranger.”

Gail Morris, of Southwest Monarchs, spent a day educating the Nature Rangers kids on the travels of the monarchs through Arizona and what we could do to help them.

And so today, the Nature Rangers actually became “citizen scientists” and helped tag the monarchs.

Sydney's actions have gone on to place her as a runner-up in the 2011 International Action for Nature Eco Hero Award.

The club also planted native plants that are sources of nectar and breeding spaces for future generations of the southwest’s monarch.

“I liked planting milkweed because I know that it is going to help the monarch butterflies,” said Ian.

The Nature Rangers also participate in other efforts to enjoy and restore nature. Recently, the kids helped remove tamarisk, a non-native woody plant that has invaded the Hassayampa River and other rivers in the West.

Said Emily: “I like being a Nature Ranger a lot. It is so fun to be able to learn about nature.”

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