Insights > What Do Leadership and Monarch Butterflies Have in Common?
What Do Leadership and Monarch Butterflies Have in Common?
A few weeks ago, I would not have known how to answer this question. But the opportunity to learn the answer, and much more, arose for me recently through a volunteer project offered in connection with a leadership meeting in New Orleans.
The area across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans is known by locals as the West Bank. Despite living in the greater New Orleans area for more than 30 years, I had never been to an area that has been described by The Times-Picayune as "a jewel of the South"-- Brechtel Park.
|From left: Matt Suffern, Tim Cragin and other Entergy employees built a milkweed garden in support of an environmental initiative to increase the population of monarch butterflies.|
There, employee volunteers dug in for the teambuilding beautification event, part of a larger Entergy environmental initiative aimed at addressing the serious issue of drastic declines in monarch butterfly populations -- declines, which I learned, of more than 90 percent in the past 25 years.
The causes of the decline include lack of habitat and the impact of pesticides on the monarch's main source of sustenance: milkweed.
Luckily, milkweed grows well in the hot, humid climate of the South, so we spent the morning establishing a veritable drive-thru diner for these beautiful insects as they follow their migratory path from Mexico to Canada and back again. Did you know this annual trip is the longest known distance insect migration on Earth?
|Monique Hoffmeister helped establish the monarch milkweed “drive thru diner” at Brechtel Park on New Orleans’ West Bank.|
This was a great opportunity to support Entergy's mission to add value to the communities we serve. Our work will help protect biodiversity in our region by encouraging monarch butterfly populations. Plus, the project had participants from a number of Entergy departments and geographic locations, giving us all a chance to strengthen existing work relationships and get to know folks we were meeting for the first time. Most surprisingly, it gave us an opportunity to see more of the New Orleans area. While it was my first visit to Brechtel Park, it will not be the last, and I would recommend the experience for anyone who has the opportunity.
|Stretching exercises led by an ENshape coordinator prepared employees to work safely.|
In addition to the milkweed planting, several of us worked to remove some pretty aggressive weeds -- the growth of which can harm existing trees in the area -- and accomplished additional improvement efforts. The real result, though, is the long-term future enjoyment of seeing the milkweed take root, attracting monarch butterflies to Brechtel Park for visitors to enjoy for years to come. Not to mention the stronger relationships we built with each other along the way.
Matt Suffern works in Little Rock, Ark., as assistant general counsel supporting Entergy Arkansas.