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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Signature Earth Day Event: Take Flight!

Apr 21, 2021, 6:00pm - 7:15pm
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Zoom Webinar
Cecil Okotah

April 21 program banner with monarch butterfly graphic


By registering for this event, you will receive automatic program information including a link to resources shared during this program.

Promotional text and image of Doug Tallamy's book Nature's Best Hope


Take Flight! is an Earth Day celebration of local and global efforts to protect and restore the monarch butterfly. The monarch is an icon of our planet’s biodiversity. Its population in Ohio and globally borders on extinction* though there is hope in sight!   

The monarch has a remarkable migration story cycling between Mexico to Canada across the United States. The U.S. Midwest region, including Ohio, serves as a vital corridor in this journey. The Midwest produces and nurtures multiple generations of monarchs each year and serves as the origin of most monarchs that migrate to Mexico. Monarch populations have declined by over 70% in North America, and a global conservation effort is required to restore them.  

This is a global restoration effort and individuals can truly make a difference. This program focuses on solutions and provides tangible resources for all to contribute, including landscape planning by public and private landowners. Join New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Doug Tallamy and Jane Breckinridge, director, Euchee Butterfly Farm, and an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, as they teach us how to build monarch habitat in our yards and communities and share inspirational cultural stories on the connections we have to this iconic butterfly.  

Dr. Tallamy and Ms. Breckinridge will share the virtual stage with leading Ohioans from private, public, and non-profit sectors who are taking action across Ohio to protect pollinator habitat and show us how individuals and communities can engage locally to make a difference in this global conservation movement. 

Ohio State’s Environmental Professionals Network is proud to host Take Flight! our annual (and eighth) signature Earth Day event with the School of Environment and Natural Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. This year’s event is in partnership with TEDxOhioStateUniversitySalon and Monarch Joint Venture.  

*The US Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that listing the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act is “warranted but precluded” on December 15, 2020. 


5:55 p.m. Waiting room opens.  

6:00 p.m. Welcome to Take Flight! An Earth Day celebration of local and global efforts to protect and restore the monarch butterfly.

The Ohio State University Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce McPheron, Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Cathann Kress and Director of the School of Environment and Natural Resources Jeff Sharp welcome you to Take Flight! An Earth Day celebration of local and global efforts to protect and restore the monarch butterfly.

6:10 p.m. Debut of TEDx Talks by Rebecca Spach, director of vegetation management, FirstEnergy, and Gabe Karns, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University that demonstrate the conservation actions being taken by environmental and natural resource professionals, residents, and enthusiasts across Ohio to protect pollinator habitat, and apply national monitoring efforts on a local scale. 

6:30 p.m. Jane Breckinridge, director, Euchee Butterfly Farm, an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and Doug Tallamy, PhD, professor, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware, New York Times bestselling author share inspirational cultural stories on the connections we have to the monarch butterfly and strategies to conserve habitat in our backyards and communities.  

This segment will include an interactive live Question & Answer session between program attendees and Dr. Tallamy, Ms. Breckinridge, Ms. Spach and Dr. Karns.

7:15 p.m. Concluding remarks by Dr. Sharp and Jennifer Thieme, regional monitoring coordinator, Monarch Joint Venture.


Photo of speaker Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy, PhD is the T. A. Baker Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware.

Dr. Tallamy has authored 104 research publications and has taught insect related courses for 40 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers' Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug's new book 'Nature's Best Hope' released by Timber Press in February 2020, is a New York Times Best Seller. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, the 2018 AHS B.Y. Morrison Communication Award and the 2019 Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. 

Photo of speaker Jane Breckinridge

Jane Breckinridge is the director of the Euchee Butterfly Farm located in Leonard, Oklahoma, and an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 

Ms. Breckinridge has spent the last twenty years raising and exhibiting butterflies throughout the United States and Canada, as well as providing community and youth education on butterflies. In 2013, Ms. Breckinridge founded the Natives Raising Natives Project, which is teaching rural tribal members to be butterfly farmers in order to reduce unemployment, promote science education for Native youth and raise awareness of the need for protecting the fragile eco-systems that support butterflies and other threatened pollinators. She is the co-director of Tribal Environmental Action for Monarchs and Tribal Alliance for Pollinators which partner with Monarch Watch and Native American tribes to restore habitat on tribal lands. She has spent over thirty years working in the magazine publishing industry, specializing in audience development and consumer marketing, and graduated from Macalester College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

Photo of speaker Rebecca Spach

Rebecca Spach is the director of vegetation management at FirstEnergy.

Ms. Spach is directly responsible for tree trimming and other vegetation management options for the approximately 14,000 miles of FirstEnergy transmission line corridors. In addition, she provides oversight and support for the vegetation management work done along the more than 140,000 miles of distribution lines in the company’s six-state service area. Spach joined Ohio Edison in 1987 as a forestry technician and has been promoted to a variety of supervisory and management positions over the years in the Forestry and Vegetation Management groups. A resident of Doylestown, Ohio she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ashland University and has an Associate’s degree in Applied Science Forestry Technology from Hocking College.

Photo of speaker Gabe Karns

Gabe Karns, PhD is a visiting assistant professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University.

Gabriel Karns has a shared position between the School of Environment and Natural Resources and Ohio State University-Mansfield.  Understanding how vegetation management on working lands, such as rights-of-ways, provide opportunities as well as challenges for conservation has been one of his focal areas and led to on-the-ground partnerships across the utility and transportation sector and several advisory roles to those industries to help scale conservation-positive practices.  Involving students in field research has always been a priority, and Mansfield’s Ecolab initiative is opening up new doors to involve future professionals in field research at the local scale.  He also teaches a number of senior-level classes including Wildlife Ecology Methods, Wildlife Habitat Management, and the Capstone course for Wildlife and Forestry majors.  He earned wildlife science degrees from North Carolina State (BS and MS) and Auburn University (PhD) before becoming a part of the Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Lab over 8 years ago and more recently expanding his accountabilities to Ohio State Mansfield. 


We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Cecil Okotah ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

This program will be recorded, edited, and posted to the EPN YouTube page by April 28, 2021.