Lunch With The Arts Takes Wing

Published 2:07 pm Monday, November 14, 2016


Contributing writer 

The Community Arts Center invites you to learn about one of nature’s truly regal creations and works of art: the Monarch Butterfly. On Wednesday, November 16, Joanna Kirby, former President of The Garden Club of Kentucky, Inc. and respected industry expert on Monarch Waystations, will present a Lunch with the Arts program on The Monarch Project.

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Joanna Kirby Article Photo

In the late summer/early autumn of each year, you can view the amazing migration of hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies. They travel from their summer home in the United States and Canada to Mexico and California where they overwinter. This migration, one of nature’s great natural wonders, is threatened by the loss of the Monarch’s natural habitat in North America. Habitats where they breed in the spring and summer, as well as the habitats where they winter, are threatened.

That’s where the Monarch Project comes in. “I initiated the project in 2013 to educate garden club members across Kentucky on how to create habitat waystations specifically for Monarchs, which subsist solely on the vanishing milkweed. Development and farming practices remove over 6000 acres per day of native habitat, affecting all pollinators. Many club members chose to establish a waystation in their own garden as well as area schools, libraries, extension services and parks.” Leading by example, Joanna has established a Monarch Waystation in her own garden, which as been certified by through the University of Kansas.

Joanna Kirby 4

The Monarch Waystation project began to blossom once Elaine Walker, Kentucky Department of Parks Commissioner, and Ron Vanover, State Naturalist at Kentucky Department of Parks, took notice. “We began working with state parks in 2013,” says Joanna, “and many expressed interest in the project. The parks have been a great way to spread the word and emphasize its importance.”

More than a dozen Kentucky State Parks are working on projects preserving habitat and planting milkweed plants, which the butterflies need for survival. There are 12 certified Monarch Waystations in the state parks. Joanna has worked with 26 of the 49 state parks and is still working on continuing projects.  

The Garden Club of Kentucky and The Wild Ones Lexington Chapter formed a partnership to spread the word statewide,” says Joanna. Wild Ones advances the knowledge about the native plants of the region and their habitats. She goes on to say, “I appointed Linda Porter, Wild Ones member from Danville, as special chairperson to assist in the project. Due to this statewide effort, the number of certified Monarch Waystations in the state of Kentucky has increased from 36, in the spring of 2013, to over 402 today.”

As a result of this partnership, Joanna won a National Gardens Club, Inc. (NGC) President’s Award for the project, the first time Kentucky has won this distinction.

We want gardeners to understand how to build and maintain Monarch habitats, including milkweed,” says Joanna. “That is not just an activity for gardeners; it can be undertaken by schools, community groups and local governments.”

Joanna Kirby is an Extension Service Certified Master Gardner. She now serves on the board of NGC as well as serving on the NGC President’s Special Project for Monarch Watch and Monarch Waystations. She is also the South Atlantic Region Bees and Butterfly Preservation Endangered Species Chair. She chairs the State Park Partnership through The Garden Club of Kentucky, Inc. She is also a Landscape Design Consultant for the NGC. She is a Life Member of The Garden Club of Kentucky, Inc., the South Atlantic Regional Garden Clubs and the NGC.

More info:


Lunch with the Arts, featuring Joanna Kirby

Noon- p.m. Wednesday at Community Arts Center

Register by Monday for lunch or pay at door ($12/lunch, $7/door) 


• Trees of the Season exhibit and opening reception, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26

• Cookies for Santa plate workshop, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3, $20/plate

• Secret Santa pottery painting, 3-6 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 9, $20 per child

• Starry Night Studios: Poinsettia, 7-9 p.m. Tuesday; Starry Snowman, 1-3 p.m. Nov. 26, $25/each class