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Livingston Students Encourage Community to Help Restore Monarch Butterfly Population

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LIVINGSTON, NJ — A group of Livingston students is asking for the community’s help in restoring the Monarch Butterfly population in the area.

The group—consisting of sixth-garders Natasha Ahlawat and Neil Ahlawat; fifth-grader Aalok Dhurandhar; seventh-grader Srishti Dhurandhar; eighth-grader Ankita Sharma; seventh-grader Ruhi Tawde; and eighth-grader Divya Chiplunkar—presented a plan to the Livingston mayor and council at the Livingston Township Council meeting on Monday requesting that they sign a pledge agreeing to help spread awareness about Monarch Butterflies.

Dhurandhar, a fifth-grader at Hillside Elementary School, spoke to the council about the rapid depletion of the Monarch Butterfly population.

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“Monarch Butterflies, a symbol of hope, need our help,” he said. “Weighing less than a paperclip, these insects migrate over 3,000 miles. This migration is one of the greatest migration phenomenon in the insect world.”

However, over the past few years, the group said the population has decreased from almost 1 billion butterflies to 60 million, which is a 90 percent decrease.

The students drafted a plan to help both educate the public as well as restore some of the current population. One suggestion the students made involves the creation of a demo garden in town, which would contain many of the plants that Monarch Butterflies are drawn to.

These include a “Suburban kit,” which contains nectar plants and native milking plants to be planted in suburban areas, and an “Urban Kit,” which contains artificial nectar plants which can be placed on a windowsill.

The students also designed a tracking tool or survey, which can be easily distributed to the public and is accessible on most computers. With this tool, they were able to survey the public to determine the amount of nectar and milkweed plants in the community.

The students also discovered with the tool that more than 88 percent of the community did not have milkweed in their garden and more than 60 percent did not know of or have nectar plants.

In order to help educate the community, the students drafted the “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge,” asking the mayor and council to commit to doing three actions to support this cause. The actions include: creating a proclamation to spread awareness about this cause; creating a demo garden for the community to follow; and sending out a survey to help create awareness as well.

Mayor Al Anthony thanked the students for bringing this problem to their attention and agreed to sign the pledge alongside the Livingston council members.

“When the students came to us with this pledge, it caught all of our eyes,” he said.

All council members unanimously approved the signing of this pledge and commended the students for their hard work researching this topic.

“We are very proud of all the work you did,” said Anthony. “Monarch butterflies are very beautiful and I really think we should help them out.”

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