Grand Island- The Grand Island Groundwater Guardian's Outdoor Learning Area will host its first educational event at the Nebraska State Fair this year.
A Monarch Tagging presentation and demonstration are scheduled for Saturday from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Integration Specialist, Jan Tell will bring first through fifth grade students from Dodge Elementary, as well as seasoned monarch-tagging veterans Dan Glomski and Dottie Anderson, to show fairgoers how monarchs are tagged.
Visitors are welcome to try their own hand at capturing and tagging. Tagging data will be recorded and sent to Monarch Watch, hosted by the University of Kansas.
Glomski said, "I remember when clouds of monarchs were visible in the fall just looking from my backyard. Recent numbers are way down partly due to habitat loss, both here and in Mexico. In 2010, I saw hardly any and last year numbers here looked a little better, but are still quite low compared to just a few years ago. It would be a shame to lose this great spectacle of nature. "
Students tag Monarchs at Dodge Elementary in Grand Island. The Monarchs fly through central Nebraska starting at the end of August until the end of September.
Teachers and students catch them and put them in an envelope in the refrigerator until the butterflies are brought to school to tag them.
Students said that this year they have recovered a Monarch from El Rosario, Mexico and learned that it can fly 1,472 miles.
Actual tagging includes checking the monarch to see if it is a female or male and tagging it on the basal cell.
Glomski taught the students how to catch and identify butterflies with a field guide.
When asked about that experience, the students said they had an exciting moment when they saw a rare Regal Fritillary.
According to the Nature Center's website, "While the journey of the monarchs is justly famous, much remains to be learned about it. How do they find their wintering grounds? To help scientists, amateur entomologists tag monarchs as they migrate, recording when and where the monarch was captured. Tagged monarchs that are later recovered may offer clues as to what routes they use while traveling southward."
Glomski added, "I'm hoping the data we collect will help bring the monarchs back."
The Outdoor Learning Area is located in the Kidz Zone and is designed to provide an attractive greenscape area for use by fairgoers while providing educational opportunities regarding one of our most precious resources -- groundwater."
Although the site will be located at the State Fair grounds, the Outdoor Learning Area will be available year-round to allow educators and the public an educational, leisurely place to enjoy nature.
The Grand Island Groundwater Guardian Team is a local volunteer group whose purpose is to educate the public about the importance of groundwater.