Discovery Center hosts second annual Monarch Fest

A+sign+directs+visitors+to+a+native+plant+sell+happening+in+the+Discovery+Center%27s+greenhouse+Oct.+19+at+the+Monarch+Fest.+Photo+credit%3A+Bayley+Bogus

A sign directs visitors to a native plant sell happening in the Discovery Center's greenhouse Oct. 19 at the Monarch Fest. Photo credit: Bayley Bogus

Bayley Bogus

For the second year in a row, the San Marcos Discovery Center hosted the Monarch Fest and native plant sale Oct. 19.

The event took place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and was located at 430 Riverside Drive, to celebrate and spread awareness on the importance of the Monarch butterfly.

Conrad Chappell, San Marcos Discovery Center specialist, said the focus of the fest this year was the environment and ensuring attendees understand monarch safety.

“Our top priority here is spreading awareness to how precarious monarchs are,” Chappell said. “There are so many things we can do that are not difficult to make the world a better place.”

Fifteen local organizations hosted exhibits at the festival, including Bobcat Buzz, Hill Country Native Plant Society of Texas and Austin Bat Refuge. Booths were set up around the outside of the center with representatives of each group working to educate attendees on how to protect habitats of migrating monarchs and other species.

Travis Wayne Scott, agriculture business and management junior, was one of several Bobcat Buzz members in attendance. Scott said how imperative it is to understand the importance of pollinators on people’s lives and the environment.

“We want to help people learn more about bees and pollinators in general,” Scott said. “The Discovery Center emailed us to exhibit here, and we had a table last year as well. We wanted to come back to contribute.”

Bobcat Buzz is a Texas State beekeeping club. The organization has several hives and gardens throughout campus members maintain. Additionally, the club hosts educational bee-related activities at its meetings at 6 p.m. every other Wednesday.

In addition, the Monarch Fest was coupled with a native plant sale, allowing participants to peruse various native plants and become inspired to create their own butterfly garden. In purchasing pollinator-friendly greenery, people can positively contribute to the species’ health, as native plants provide nectar for monarchs.

The Native Plant Society of Texas-Hill Country Chapter comes to the Discovery Center twice a year, once in the fall and then spring. NPSOT is heavily involved in monarch conservation through various initiatives like Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas and I-35 Waystation program.

Tanya Davison, vice president of communications for the chapter, said how much she enjoys bringing the booth to the center because of the people she gets to interact with.

“(The Discovery Center) is our favorite place to bring our booth because the people we see here that come by are ready to do their gardening,” Davison said. “The people we talk to are not just walking around, they want to know what plants are going to work where they live. Those specifics are what we specialize in and we love giving out information.”

NPSOT is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. The Hill Country Chapter has been around for four years and meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at EmilyAnn Gardens in the Burdine Johnson Theater, located at 1101 FM 2325 in Wimberley.

There were roughly 100 people in attendance, coming and going throughout the seven hours the event took place. Carolyn Gonzales is a San Marcos local who attended the fest and said she appreciates the conservation efforts the city has undergone.

“I love this event and always try to come to things like this,” Gonzales said. “I appreciate what San Marcos does for conservation in educating its citizens.”

Central Texas is in the heart of a flyway for several migrating species of birds and insects, including the monarch butterfly. Chappell said while educating attendees and spreading awareness, he wants people to feel empowered long after leaving the event.

“The most important thing to take away is empowerment,” Chappell said. “What we want most in hosting conservation events is to have people feel connected to the ecosystem around them. It only takes little steps along the way to protect our environment.”

The second annual Monarch Fest and native plant sale featured a variety of activities for kids and adults alike. The event was free and open to the public. If visitors went to all 15 booths and completed an exhibitor passport given to them upon arrival, they were entered in a drawing with prizes including a Monarch Garden Consultation and $60 worth of plants.

For more information on the San Marcos Discovery Center and its activities, visit its website: http://sanmarcostx.gov/161/Activities

Bobcat Buzz is active on Instagram @txstbees

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