May 5, 2021

East Providence/Seekonk Rotary Club Announces Project To Help Save Butterflies

“Operation Pollination” provides free wildflower seed packets to community

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East Providence, R.I. (April 22, 2021): The East Providence/Seekonk Rotary Club announces “Operation Pollination,” a new environmental-related project to help save butterflies and other important plant pollinator species.

Beginning May 1, 2021, free wildflower seed packets will be available to the general public while supplies last. The packets may be picked-up at BayCoast Bank, 110 Taunton Avenue in Seekonk during normal business hours (Mon-Wed 9a-4p; Thurs-Fri 9a-6p; and Sat 9a-1p); and Newberry Public Relations and Marketing, 1445 Wampanoag Trail Suite 103-B in Riverside (weekdays only from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm).

“The environment is a new area of focus for Rotary International members in clubs like ours throughout the world,” states Betty Galligan, president of the East Providence/Seekonk Rotary Club. “Seventy-five percent of the world’s plant species are dependent on pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly, to survive. We encourage everyone to help do their part in their own backyards and garden spaces by planting these wildflower seeds to attract butterflies.”

Each winter, colonies of monarch butterflies gather annually in Mexico and fly to the southern U.S. to lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Their offspring then flies as far north as Canada to lay their own eggs. After a third generation of butterflies hatches at the end of summer, a fourth “super” generation heads back to Mexico – typically a 6,000-mile round trip journey and the longest known migration of any insect species. The over-wintering monarch butterfly population has decreased 53% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

“Everywhere along their migration route, butterflies need a habitat to survive. If we can improve the pollinator habitat in our own community, we can be part of the solution,” states Galligan, whose late mother, a butterfly enthusiast, in part inspired the project.

Habitat loss for monarchs is believed to be caused by illegal logging in Mexico, modern agricultural practices in the U.S. and Canada where corn and soybeans no longer share space with milkweed plants, climate change, pesticide use, and urban sprawl. Native plants provide nectar that nourishes the butterflies as well as other pollinators such as bumblebees, bats and moths. Without pollinators, 30 percent of food in grocery stores would disappear.

“Operation Pollination is not only a way to make our communities prettier with colorful wildflowers, but also to help save our butterfly and bee population,” adds Galligan. “We’re encouraging everyone – including residents, businesses, school teachers, and organizations – throughout East Providence, Seekonk and beyond to participate in this project with us Rotarians. We’re hoping our project can plant the seeds of awareness about the plight of the monarch butterfly and the science of pollination, and that it will grow into an impactful project that we can repeat year after year. It’s one way that Rotary can continue to bring about positive change in the world.”

Supporting the environment is Rotary's seventh area of focus, which are categories of service activities. It joins peacebuilding and conflict prevention; disease prevention and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and community economic development. For more information about The Rotary Club of East Providence/Seekonk, visit: www.epseekonkrotary.org

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Established in 1946, The Rotary Club of East Providence/Seekonk is an organization made up of ‘people of action’ who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace locally and in the world. The motto is “Service Above Self.” The Club meets via Zoom on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month at 12:15 pm and is involved in charitable projects, fundraising events and service activities to benefit the local community and organizations in need. The Club is seeking new members who are interested in serving the community. Contact Membership Chair Lori DiPersio at 401-578-5317 or ldipersio24@gmail.com  for more information.


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