Sacred knowledge and science converge

Sacred knowledge and science converge
(Gene Aker) Those attending the Spring TAP conference learned green house growing techniques for milkweed and native plants at Euchee Butterfly Farms.

 Angel Ellis/Reporter

TAP hosts leading experts in conservation and restoration

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma— As the growing season kicks off for agriculture in Oklahoma, the Tribal Alliance for Pollinators (TAP) held their spring workshop at the College of Muscogee Nation (CMN) featuring important information in restoration and conservation as well as intersections of ecological, cultural and community health.

The workshop was a chance to hear presentations by the leading experts on native plants and habitat restoration in Oklahoma. All aspects of native plant production and plant restoration were covered.

The three-day conference took those interested in learning the concepts to three separate sites, The Gathering Place in Tulsa, The Euchee Butterfly farm in Bixby and on the final day classroom concepts were discussed on campus at the CMN in Okmulgee.

Throughout the three days, conference attendees learned about pollinator habitation restoration process, how to grow out milkweed and native plant seedlings in a greenhouse and how to prepare for site planting.

Dr. Joe Ann McCoy of Appalachian State University was on the agenda. McCoy led an hour-long session on the importance of developing long-term seed storage systems and sustainable collection methods.

United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] Tribal Liason Carol Crouch explained how the USDA could provide technical support and financial assistance to tribes for pollinator and monarch habitat restoration programs.

South Central Climate Adaption Science Center’s Brennah Jones followed with a session on milkweed and Monarch butterfly restoration in the Chickasaw Nation.

Chickasaw Nation Sustainability Scientist April Taylor talked about the drought. She said there are many elements to tracking, planning and understanding the impact of droughts.

“It’s more than just rainfall, it encompasses soil moisture, and data comparisons over time and many elements,” Taylor said.

The keynote speaker for the event University of Washington’s of Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program Director Brett Ramey at the shared his unique insights in the intersections of ecological, cultural and community health.

He spoke about his experiences in learning and healing in environments that fostered a symbiotic relationship between sacred tribal knowledge and the modern scientific methodology.

University of Kansas’ Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor and Founder and Director of Monarch Watch  Dr. Taylor, gave the class insights into the latest information on the Monarch migration. He made correlations between the most recent data and what it means for ecological health.

Trained as an insect ecologist, Dr. Chip Taylor has published papers on species assemblages, hybridization, reproductive biology, population dynamics, and plant demographics and pollination. Starting in 1974, Chip Taylor established research sites and directed students studying Neotropical African honeybees [killer bees] in French Guiana, Venezuela, and Mexico.

In 1992, Taylor founded Monarch Watch, an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation relative to monarch butterflies. Since then, Monarch Watch has enlisted the help of volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration. This program has produced many new insights into the dynamics of the monarch migration.

Katie Hawk of the Nature Conservancy/Okies for Monarch and Dr. Partrick Bell of Oklahoma Native Plant Society delivered a session support and synergy.

Rounding out the afternoon was GAP Project Officer Curtis who educated the group on how to use GAP grants to help Monarchs and polinators and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Monarch Outreach Specialist Katie Boyer. Boyer spoke about the Endangered Species Act and how USFWS is working to save the Monarch.

TAP is a non-profit organization born out of the groundswell of support generated by the Tribal Environmental Action for Monarchs (TEAM). TEAM is a coalition of seven tribal partners — Chickasaw, Seminole, Citizen Potawatomi, Muscogee Creek, Osage, Eastern Shawnee and Miami Nations — who are restoring monarch habitat on their lands with the assistance of Monarch Watch and the Euchee Butterfly Farm. The TEAM coalition has restored over 35,000 milkweeds, a favorite plant for pollinator species, to date and is in the process of restoring 28,000 native wildflowers on 350 acres of habitat.

TAP provides training and technical support for tribes throughout North America that want to conserve and restore grassland ecosystems to help threatened pollinators and to preserve the native plants that serve as the foundation for Indigenous cultural, medicinal and culinary traditions.

TAP currently has a regional seed bank of plants native to Oklahoma that is available for tribes within our eco-region and is seeking contributions to expand the inventory to other regions.

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