GALLIPOLIS FERRY — Each year the various groups within the Mason County Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) clubs join together to give a “Taste of CEOS” to anyone interested.
This year, the Taste of CEOS and Plant Exchange was held at the Faith Gospel Church in Gallipolis Ferry. Members from each of the six clubs in Mason County including the Avalanche Club, Camp Conley Club, Leon Club, Pleasant Club, WoHeLo Club, and the Honey Bees were in attendance. Ben Goff, agricultural and natural resources agent for Mason and Putnam counties, was the guest speaker, presenting on the importance of saving the monarch butterfly.
“The decline of a pollinator is a big concern because it does drastically impact food and crop production,” said Goff.
He discussed the importance of pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly, to plants and humans. Approximately one out of every three bites a human takes is due to pollinators and 85 percent of the plants on earth require pollinators for survival which includes 1,200 crop species.
However, there is a decline in pollinators. Goff explained between 30-45 percent of honey bee colonies are lost annually due to various reasons such as mites or colony collapse and the monarch butterfly population has decreased by 90 percent over the last 20 years.
The monarch butterfly population has decreased because of deforestation in areas where it overwinters, loss of milkweed along its migration route, as well as other reasons such as broad spectrum insecticide.
One way individuals can help the monarch butterfly population is to plant milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant consumed by the Monarch caterpillar and it takes about four generations of Monarchs to complete its migration, which is 3,000 miles one way. Eggs are laid on milkweed plants, which are consumed by caterpillar after hatching, then the caterpillar eventually forms a chrysalis and becomes an adult butterfly. Each adult butterfly travels approximately 50-100 miles a day, depending on weather.
For those interested in planting milkweed, they should choose an open, sunny site explained Goff as most flowers that are heavy nectar producers prefer full sun. Also, pollinators prefer open areas. Other site suggestions include a windbreak (small shrub or fence), flat rocks, or a small watering source such as a bird bath or saucer of water.
Clinedda Austin, CEOS president, shared this annual event, which is sponsored by the Marketing and Membership Committee, is open to the public, so guests can learn about the organization and maybe even join a club. Along with a delicious spread of different “tastes” made by members of the CEOS, there is also a free plant exchange. Each member brings in a plant and anyone and everyone can leave with a plant or two or three.
Austin shared since last fall the Mason County CEOS has gained one new club, the Honey Bees, and about five-six new members.
The Mason County CEOS clubs are always looking for new members and anyone is welcome to join at anytime. For any questions or concerns, individuals can contact the Mason County Extension Office or Austin at 304-593-3713.
The clubs meeting schedules are as follows: Avalanche Club, third Thursday of each month, 1 p.m.; Camp Conley, third Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m.; Honey Bees, fourth Monday of each month, 6 p.m.; Leon Club, third Tuesday of each month, 1 p.m.; Pleasant Club, second Thursday of each month, time is to be announced; WoHeLo, second Wednesday of each month, 11 a.m.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.