Falmouth 'Pollinator Parade' a call to action

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FALMOUTH — Maine Audubon’s annual Pollinator Parade & Festival is designed to be a call to action and to encourage people to make the survival of pollinators such as bees and butterflies a priority, according to event organizers.

“We want people to have fun, but also to know about the critical roles pollinators play and what can be done to help conserve these important species,” said Molly Woodring, the early childhood education program manager at Audubon.

“We want folks to leave the event feeling empowered to take action to help pollinators, and also connected to others in their communities that want to do the same,” she said.

“Everyone can do things in their own yards and communities to help pollinators survive and flourish.”

Those attending the event, which will be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Gilsland Farm, are encouraged to wear costumes and pack a picnic lunch.

Children and adults are invited to dress up in butterfly, bee and bird costumes for the parade, which takes place at 11:30 a.m. In anticipation, Audubon will be offering color your own butterfly wings kits at the nature store this week.

During the event, Maine Audubon will also officially launch the new book, “A Monarch Butterfly Story.”

The book is being published in partnership with Islandport Press and is part of Audubon’s Wildlife on the Move series. The book was written by Melissa Kim and illustrated by Jada Fitch, who will both be on hand Saturday.

In addition, Audubon will also give out milkweed seed bombs and ask attendees to sign a pollinator pledge, “so that they can stay connected to our native plant restoration work and learn about opportunities to get the whole family involved in stewardship projects,” Woodring said.

The Pollinator Parade & Festival is free and open to the public, but Audubon will be charging a $5 parking fee.

“Bees, butterflies, and birds that pollinate flowers and fruit are incredibly special and important, (for the health of) both people and the environment,” Woodring said, which is why Maine Audubon was thrilled to sign on to the pollinator project.

This is the third year for the pollinator festival, which was the brainchild of Leah Deragon, the founder of Birth Roots, a Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to providing what Deragon calls community supported parenting.

“The plight of pollinators was important to her personally, and she was looking for opportunities to rally the Birth Roots community around grassroots activism and positive change,” Woodring said.

For her part, Deragon said she was inspired by the efforts of the group, Monarch Watch, based in Kansas, whose mission it is to preserve and sustain monarch butterfly habitats from Mexico, across the U.S. and into Canada.

The local pollinator parade “seeks to bring attention to the critically low numbers of monarch butterflies and the plight of many pollinator species,” she said.

“Pollinator conservation is one of those rare opportunities (for people) to connect the actions we can take within our own front yards with positive results they can see for themselves,” Woodring added.

“It can be easy to slide into the mindset that a gathering such as this is little more than a morning of being entertained by the cuteness of children in costume, (but) something much more dynamic is happening,” Deragon said.

With this event, she said, “We are showing our children, this is what we do when we care about the outcome. We are writing the script and the dialogue for the next chapter, in which our values and concerns and voices are heard.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Maine Audubon will host its third annual Pollinator Parade & Festival on Saturday at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth to highlight the importance of pollinators such as bees, butterflies and birds.