From the left, Jim Tarjeft, Marilyn Trent, Valerie Malaney, Michele Hooper, Kelly Konieczki of Detroit Butterfly Nursery, Matilda Konieczki and Steve Konieczki pose for a photo during a past Rochester Pollinators event.

From the left, Jim Tarjeft, Marilyn Trent, Valerie Malaney, Michele Hooper, Kelly Konieczki of Detroit Butterfly Nursery, Matilda Konieczki and Steve Konieczki pose for a photo during a past Rochester Pollinators event.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester

Rochester earns ‘Monarch Champion’ designation from National Wildlife Federation

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 8, 2023


ROCHESTER — Rochester is one of four cities in the United States to be named a 2022 Monarch Champion City by the National Wildlife Federation.

Rochester City Councilwoman Marilyn Trent — the founder of the Rochester Pollinators — said the Monarch Champion designation was several years in the making.

Since 2017, each Rochester mayor has signed the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge — a promise to restore native habitats in the area and to educate others about their importance — and committed to complete at least three of the 30 action items outlined in the pledge.

This past year, the city earned its designation by fulfilling 25 actions and projects within the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge through the Rochester Pollinators — a committee of the Rochester City Beautiful Commission — with the support of Mayor Stuart Bikson, the Rochester City Council and its many volunteers.

“We are the only city in Michigan, and one of four in the nation, to receive this designation,” said Trent. “It’s a lot of work. You have to have a dedicated group of people to do it.”

Trent founded the Rochester Pollinators Committee — a subcommittee of the City Beautiful Commission — in 2019 because she was alarmed at the decline of the monarch butterfly.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, by 2014 the eastern population of the monarch butterfly had declined by 90%. In July 2022, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the monarch endangered under their “Red List of Threatened Species,” citing habitat destruction and climate change as the primary causes of the species’ decline.

Since the committee was founded, over 120 individuals have signed up to volunteer, helping to check off action items on the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Some of the actions completed thus far have included: creating five public pollinator gardens with native plants; adding educational signage; installing two pollinator-themed public art installations; creating a free native seed library at Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve; giving away thousands of milkweed plants to residents; hosting winter sowing and seed stratification workshops; giving presentations at garden clubs, schools and libraries; creating a butterfly garden for The Children’s Center in Detroit; and more.

“Some of these action items are actually policy changes that the City Council had to approve,” Trent added. “One of them was banning neonicotinoids from being used on public land in the city, which kills bees and birds and butterflies.”

In one season, Trent said, it can take up to four generations of monarchs to reach their destination from Mexico to Canada. The monarchs that are native to Michigan are the fourth generation and have a long journey home.

New generations of monarchs start here on their host plant, milkweed, on which they depend to develop. But recent declines in the milkweed habitat across the Midwest have contributed to the monarch population decline.

The city of Rochester, she said, is committed to supporting the monarch butterfly and other beneficial insects by encouraging people to engage in native plantings and working to remove invasive plants on its public lands as an integral part of sustainability and conservation.

Emily Preziotti, a community wildlife manager at the National Wildlife Federation, said she is excited to welcome the city of Rochester into a select group of cities that have earned the title of Monarch Champion.

“Through their numerous actions in the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program, Rochester has demonstrated a strong commitment to monarch and pollinator conservation. We commend their efforts and this significant achievement and look forward to continuing to partner with the city in the program and beyond,” Preziotti said in a statement.

For more information about the work of Rochester Pollinators, visit For more information on the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, visit