Profile: Genevieve Leroux, butterfly hero
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Who is she?
Claim to fame
Leroux has been actively involved in helping monarch butterflies by building pollinator gardens and by raising awareness in her community.
She was named one of the recipients of the 2018 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes was established by American children’s fantasy author T.A. Barron in memory of his mom, which recognizes 25 young leaders from the U.S. and Canada who dedicate their time to make a positive impact on people, communities and the environment.
The top 15 winners are awarded $10,000 for higher education, or to help support their service work.
According to Leroux, “butterflies are attracted to bright, colourful flowers (especially pink, orange, yellow and red) as their nectar source. Butterflies drink nectar for energy to fly.” (Submitted by the Barron Prize)
Leroux grew up in San Luis Obispo, Calif., which is on the migratory route for wintering monarchs.
She became passionate about butterflies while in Grade 3.
She began to grow milkweed plants from seed and ended up planting a certified pollinator garden in her backyard and at her school.
Leroux even inspired residents of her community to plant milkweed in demonstration gardens throughout her town.
In addition to her activism, she is also a citizen scientist for Monarch Alert, a research program based at California Polytechnic State University, that focuses on tagging monarchs to collect information on their breeding habits and population size in backyard gardens.
Since her family has relocated to western Quebec, she is developing a plan to help eastern migratory monarch butterfly conservation.
“It is frustrating to see the amount of people using pesticides and cutting down milkweed. Pesticides are one of the worst things for butterflies and are contributing to the severe population declines of the monarch butterfly.”
As a citizen scientist for monarch alert, Leroux has logged more than 500 hours tagging monarchs and collecting information to help scientists track them. (Submitted by the Barron Prize)
Her advice on helping the monarchs
Leroux says one thing kids can do to help monarch butterflies is to let milkweed and bright flowers grow in their yard.
If you live in an apartment or do not have a large yard, you can still help butterflies by planting potted flowers and milkweed. Leroux says every little bit helps.
Also, try to encourage your parents or guardians to buy organic food.
If it is organic, that means no pesticides were used.
In her own words
“Butterflies only come out of their chrysalis and fly away when the temperature is just right. I think people make a difference in the same way. When it matters most and the situation is just right, people rise to the occasion and take action.”