About Us

We are a diverse, enthusiastic, innovative group of Iowans (and beyond) who care about our natural world. We care about the beings in this world, and are working specifically to help one tiny, yet powerful, being: the Monarch Butterfly.  While this is where our efforts currently find themselves, we are firm believers in the interconnectedness of lives, and we hope that helping this one pollinator will increase the habitats and lives of all other living beings. It’s often said that the Monarch Butterfly is a “gateway pollinator” and we agree!

We are able to do what we do because of our hundreds of volunteers and supporters. Iowans and others contribute their time, energy, hands, and money to make it all possible.  Of late, we received a mini-grant from the Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP).

In short:

2014: Team Milkweed Matters RAGBRAI and tossed loose milkweed seed into the route roadside.

2015: Monarchs in Eastern Iowa (a Facebook group of Monarch enthusiasts!) rolled 2,000 seedballs and distributed them to riders. Team Milkweed Matters survived!

2016: Thousands of Iowans rolled 52,000 seedballs and distributed them at eight educational booths along the route. Team Milkweed Matters survived again!

2017: Over 4,500 Iowans rolled more than 60,000 seedballs and we easily distributed them to thousands of RAGBRAI riders at eight educational booths. Phew!

2018: Five years of seedballing…beginning to track germination in the roadsides!

Please check out these efforts by our dear friends:

Cedar Rapids Artist, Bryan Mock and his #milkweedmandala work

Milkweed Matters: A Close Look at the Lifecycles within a Food Chain by Lisa Connors

How It Started: Our Founders’ Stories

We are Kelly and Carolynn, two friends transplanted to Grinnell, Iowa, hoping to contribute to the vast world around us.

For Kelly, this means being connected to the natural world and respecting all it has to offer, including nutrition, recreation, and beauty.  When moving to the midwest from the deep south, I was completely unprepared for the environmental wonders surrounding my small town.  Exploring nearby fields, streams, and prairies spikes my curiosity and amusement, yet alerts my feeling of obligation to protect these wonders from harm.  I first learned the details of the monarch butterfly’s migration in college, and have been slightly obsessed since.  If I may be so bold, I feel a profound connection to the idea of one butterfly beginning a journey and another – four generations later – ending it, and this reoccurring every year.  Incredible!  My own heritage is Cajun, and I feel impacted by my ancestors as are the monarch butterflies driven by theirs.  My past is my present and my present is my future.  Which means when I saw only one monarch butterfly arrive in my town this migration cycle, I learned about the reasons for the decline and knew I had to help.  This project brings together my passions and values and, I hope, makes a difference in our lives and the lives of our majestic, winged friends.

For Carolynn…

I like bugs. Insects with their crazy colors and aerodynamics. I constantly have the feeling that they know something I don’t—like there’s a party they’re late for—all dressed up and rushing about. They hold private meetings, talk in codes, carry secrets of the universe that we humans chase after so tirelessly. They embody both the resilience and fragility of this earth community; the barometers of our communal health.

I grew up in the northern Nevada desert—a paradox of minute details and great expansion. A childhood that taught me intrinsic value and the power of sustainability. And as I grew, I moved in wider and wider circles—an exploration of my senses, of my own defined space, of impermanence. I began to realize that it wasn’t actually me moving from place to place—flying, driving, running, talking, laughing, whispering, sighing—I realized I wasn’t moving through the world, but rather the world was moving through me. The sky, the colors, the sound of a train, the hum of cicadas…all passed through me whether I chose it or not.

Now my days fall under this big Midwestern sky, and I am still. Rather than insisting on my own movement, I cultivate a certain malleability that forms to the natural world. Some slack in the line that allows me to envelope, and to be enveloped. The prairie would have been vast, like the desert. A simple beauty whose conservation is now complex. Layers and layers of cause and effect…generations of butterflies, transcontinental migrations, warm winters in Mexico. Everything is reconstructed now, falls heavier. I have so much privilege and this small small seed of movement is me just swaying in the wind that’s been here for millennia.

The least I could do is hold these seeds, separate them, pinch them between my fingers. Allow my skin to listen. Look for places in the soil…press lightly into the earth. sigh my blessings and secret wishes and insect code as my ear moves closer to the ground.


This website and blog will serve as a meeting place for all things related to our project.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @milkweedmatters.  Email us at milkweedmatters@gmail.com or through the Contact page.  And, if you feel so inclined to support financially, visit the How You Can Help page to find out how.

Thank you for everything you do,

Kelly and Carolynn