Project Wingspan

Did you know that the monarch butterfly, one of North America’s most iconic species, is in jeopardy? Populations of this amazing migratory butterfly have declined by 80-90% over the last couple decades and they are currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Research estimates that an additional 1.8 billion stems of milkweed are needed in order to stabilize their populations.

Like the monarch, the rusty patched bumble bee (RPBB) was a common species 20 years ago, with a range across 28 states and two Canadian provinces. Unfortunately, RPBB populations have also seen a swift decline since the 1990s, which earned it placement on the endangered species list in 2017 – with a distinction of becoming the first bee in the contiguous 48 states to be declared endangered.

If you find these numbers troubling and would like to help in an effort to increase milkweed and other native wildflowers in the landscape for these imperiled pollinators, join Pollinator Partnership and their team of partners in collecting native wildflower seeds this summer and fall through their Project Wingspan conservation project.

Project Wingspan is looking for enthusiastic seed collecting volunteers in Minnesota and Wisconsin (as well as Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) to help collect seeds from milkweed and other common native forage plants. As a seed collecting volunteer you will be provided with the training needed to make valuable contributions to support migrating monarchs and resident rusty patched bumble bees.

Pollinator Partnership has created a simple 6-step online training module to help you learn more about Project Wingspan and its goals, how to properly collect seed from the landscape, and how to identify their target species. Skills that once learned, can be applied to your personal garden and other local community efforts. To get started today, click here and let us know you’d like to volunteer with the project. Then a state coordinator will get in touch to connect you with the training module that will best fit your level of time, skill, and interest.

Once a volunteer has completed the simple 6-step online training, they will be sent a personalized certificate of training and be assigned to the nearest established Collection Team.

Habitat Wanted

Beyond helping us collect seed, there are also other ways to participate in this initiative! Project Wingspan is working to document, secure, and enhance monarch, rusty patched bumble bee, and other rare pollinator habitat. Public land managers and private land stewards (with at least one acre of land) who are committed to long-term habitat conservation are invited to participate. To join in this effort, complete the preliminary online survey here: Selected sites may receive a free remote consultation by Project Wingspan’s Pollinator Habitat Coordinator and may be eligible for native plant material awards.

Learn More

To learn more about Project Wingspan please visit and email your State Coordinator if you have questions about how to get involved!

State Coordinators are also working to identify suitable seed collection sites in each of our focus states. To see our list of target plants and sign-up as a potential seed collection location, please fill out the online form here:

State Coordinators:
Arkansas: Sara Wittenberg
Illinois: Holly Frainer
Indiana: Emily Yates
Michigan: Connie Crancer
Minnesota: Kyla Tripp
Ohio: Lara Roketenetz
Pennsylvania: Joe Hovis
Wisconsin: Laura Jach Smith